(21 December 2004, Georgia) It looked at first like a bizarre traffic
accident. Smoke rose from the charred remains of a large tree that had
toppled onto a smoldering pickup truck. The body of a man, burned beyond
recognition, was found inside the truck. Investigators were puzzled. How
could the truck have collided with a tree behind a house? And why
did the tree fall onto the truck instead of away from it? And what
had started the fire?
As the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, it became clear that the dead
man was the victim of his own good deed. Reggie, 47, had offered to remove
a tree behind his girlfriend's house. He borrowed his father's pickup
truck, apparently in the belief that he could yank out the bottom of the
tree, which would then, cartoon-like, fall away from the truck. He tied
the truck to the tree and floored the accelerator.
The uprooted tree, pulled in the direction of the force, toppled onto the
truck, crushing the cab and trapping Reggie. The still-running engine
eventually overheated, starting a grass fire which ignited the truck's gas
tank, turning it into a fireball that spread to the tree.
Thankfully for Reggie, police determined that he was probably dead before
the truck caught fire.
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