Chapel Hill man, 55, killed by falling tree as storms blow through

Posted March 11
Updated March 13

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— A 55-year-old Chapel Hill man died Wednesday evening when a tree fell on him as heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms moved through the Triangle, police said.

According to investigators, William Randolph Morris was standing on the back deck of his home on Roper Lane at about 6:45 p.m. when the tree fell, killing him instantly.

The street is in Chapel Hill city limits but located in Durham County.

Damaging straight-line winds with gusts up to 60 mph were reported in the Triangle, resulting in multiple downed trees and power lines, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

No other information about Morris' death was released.

Another falling tree killed a person in Winston-Salem. Police said Justin Cardwell died when a pine tree fell on his car as storms rushed through the Piedmont. 

A tree also fell onto the back of a home on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh, but no injuries were reported.


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  • luvstoQ Mar 13, 3:40 p.m.

    So very sad and sorry for family and friends.

    Just should never walk outside your house during a storm - especially a rain and wind storm. Was 'very' bad in our area around hwy. 98 N. of Raleigh. WRAL, you were 'right on' your forecast! It was 'fast and furious' here.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 13, 2:52 p.m.

    Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Prayers for his loved ones.

  • jbevans459 Mar 13, 10:06 a.m.

    Condolences to the family.

  • dcatz Mar 13, 9:14 a.m.

    Isn't this the second time this has happened in recent months? Seems that a UNC student died... View More

    — Posted by thomasew52


  • SaysWhoNC Mar 13, 9:03 a.m.

    Poor man. God bless his soul and his family.

  • EricaSliver Mar 13, 9:03 a.m.

    So random! My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

  • thomasew52 Mar 13, 8:56 a.m.

    Isn't this the second time this has happened in recent months? Seems that a UNC student died from a tree falling on her while waiting for a bus, or something of that nature.

  • scubagirl2 Mar 13, 8:16 a.m.

    Well, I didn't get much at my house thankfully, but apparently compared to some others I was very lucky. When it DID rain at my house it was quick, strong and sideways for about 10 minutes then drizzle.

    Condolences to the Morris family. So sad. I've done the same thing in the past during a big storm and stood out and watched my trees - think I'll do that from inside from now on.

  • ncprr1 Mar 13, 8:06 a.m.

    Can't imagine living 55 years and then, bam, some quick little 10 minute storm shoots through the area and kills you. Poor dude and family.

  • crazyhockeygirl Mar 12, 7:58 p.m.

    As for those of you who said this was a wasn't. I just drove home from Cary (left @ 6:45) down 40 East to Exit 312 (hwy 42) in JoCo. It was a God awful white knuckle drive the entire way. Straight line 30-40 mph sustained wind, with @ least 50mph gusts. The rain was coming down so hard that you couldn't even see tail lights past 1/4 was like they just disappeared into the darkness. NOT a fun drive, very dangerous.