Forsyth County authorities said a freak accident killed a 51-year-old Suwanee man Wednesday during the height of the afternoon storms.
Kevin Neenan was traveling north on Brookwood Road near McGinnis Ferry Road when witnesses said a large pine tree fell in the winds and landed directly on top of his SUV. He was killed instantly, emergency crews said.
"I'm surprised a tree came down because I didn't feel the wind here at the house," said Bob Baker, who lives nearby.
Investigators with the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said it appears the tree was weakened by weeks of dry weather leading up to Wednesday afternoon's storms.
"From the looks of it, the tree gave way at the root system and unfortunately fell on top of this person," Sheriff's Capt. Tim House said.
Andy Calhoun said he first suspected something had happened when he felt a big impact in his house several properties away from the scene. He jumped in his car and was one of the first to arrive.
Fire crews worked for nearly two hours to remove enough of the tree from the crushed Yukon to be able to remove Neenan's body.
A few hours later, friends placed a cross at the scene just inches from where parts of the tree remained alongside the road.
A group of two men and two teenage boys also left a box with a baseball trophy, a hat and a uniform in memory of the 51-year-old. None of those gathered wanted to talk.
"The tree was big enough you could just see the back of the vehicle. It was me and two other cars, and right then the emergency vehicles started arriving," Calhoun said.
Authorities said despite would-be rescuers being so close, it didn't matter.
"Once the first units arrived on the scene and saw the condition of the driver of the vehicle, and the way the tree had impacted the top, it was pretty obvious from the first crews out that this person did not survive," House said.
Storms sweep across the metro
Strong storms and wind passed over metro Atlanta on Wednesday killing one person.
Several metro counties, including Cobb, Cherokee, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett were temporarily under tornado warnings throughout the afternoon, with the remaining counties under a tornado watch until early evening.
"There's a cool down behind this front. As the cold front moves south and east there could be a few tropical down pours," said Severe Weather Team 2 chief meteorlogist Glenn Burns. "There might be a few wrap around showers on Thursday morning where the cold air wrings out a few sprinkles."
The tornado threat followed heavy rain that hit the area early Wednesday. There was a brief break in the rain, but it returned around lunch time with tornado watches and warnings and strong winds. Viewers reported heavy downpours as tornado sirens sounded, but only a few trees down and very minor street flooding.
Harris County hit hard by storms
One of the hardest hit areas from Wednesday’s storms was Harris County.
Students at Harris County High School said they saw a tornado coming toward the school at about 2 p.m.
The storm ripped of the roof of the auditorium, part of the gym and blew windows out of most of the students’ cars.
School officials said the storm also destroyed the football concession stand and tore apart the school’s baseball complex.
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The school’s nurse told Channel 2’s Jeff Dore no one from the school was hurt in the storm.
Across town, a jailer reported the air conditioning units were blown off the county jail and the reported tornado caused a gas leak.
There were reports of damage also at the Harris County 911 center, where the storm was said to have blown the roof off of the building.
Deputies also reported the Agriculture Center was demolished by the storm.
Cobb County sustains storm Damage
In Cobb County, a resident told Channel 2's Ross Cavitt she saw something rotate in the sky near her office on Powers Ferry Road.
"It was like a huge lower wide funnel, tunnel thing," Ivey Rice said. "Our whole staff had to dive into the printer room, the work room, so as we went in there we literally had our windows and stuff shaking," said Rice.
Elaine Bauman sais she was posting and reading tornado warning updates on Facebook.
"Somebody wrote back, 'Get in the basement,' and I said, 'Well its really not that bad', then boom, everything went out," Bauman told Cavitt.
The passing of severe weather will bring a drop in temperatures heading into the weekend, according to Burns.
"Lots of sunshine but cool and breezy. We'll stay in the 50s on Thursday, then by Thursday evening and Friday morning temperatures will drop into the 40s and 30s," Burns said.