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Posted at 3:59 PM ET, 01/27/2011

Man killed by tree was on way to work

By Allison Klein
Washington Post editors

Oswaldo Hernandez-Cruz was thrilled Wednesday afternoon when he got the call from a buddy that they'd scored a job clearing snow in D.C. Work as a roofer had been slow for Hernandez-Cruz, who has three children.

So he and three friends packed up some food and piled into a gray Ford pickup, ready to work all night in the heavy storm.

But once they hit the District, traffic was unbearable. As they sat trapped in a tangle of unmoving cars in the 1700 block of Military Road - just like millions of people across the region - a tree suddenly uprooted next to their truck. It crashed onto the driver's side of the pick-up, killing Hernandez-Cruz.

"I never thought something like this could happen," said his daughter, Celia Hernandez, 16, crying into the phone from her home in Canada. "He was a great man. We loved him and he loved us."

The other three people in the truck were injured.

Celia Hernandez was on the phone with her brother Bryan, 8, who lived with their father in a Hyattsville apartment.

He had lived there for about a year, moving his family to Maryland from California because work had gotten slow out West.

Hernandez-Cruz's wife of 20 years, Ana de Paz, sobbed in the living room of their apartment Thursday, trying to explain how happy he was when he left for work Wednesday.

He had jobs clearing snow in Baltimore during last year's snow storms, but he was relieved he was going to D.C. Wednesday because it's not as far from home.

"He was so happy to have work because there hasn't been much work," de Paz said. "He said 'I'm going to Washington,' and he was happy because it's closer."

So he packed up a pork chop fillet and some black beans and rice he had cooked for dinner and headed out. He said he'd be home when his work was done.

Her cousin, Lucy Ceron, cuddled her newborn baby and said Hernandez-Cruz was the cook in the family, tinkering in the kitchen every day and creating large meals for everyone. His specialty was seafood.

He was a hard worker when there were jobs to be had, and when work was spare, he cooked and watched telenovelas with his wife and cousin.

By Allison Klein  | January 27, 2011; 3:59 PM ET
Categories:  Allison Klein, The District, Traffic Accidents  
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Next: Md. couple sickened by CO


Bless you, sir.

Posted by: runawaytexan | January 27, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Very sad news. I wonder if he was a lawful citizen, or was he a hard working immigrant. Most Latinos are ward working people. Dios ayude a su familia.

Posted by: carlos2 | January 28, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

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