San Diego

‘Bless You': Last Words Said to Man Killed by Tree Branch

A family is grieving after a man was hit by a tree branch that blew down during strong winds through San Diego County. 

Frank Vawter, 74, was getting out of his car at Holiday Park in Carlsbad Thursday when it happened. 

"[Frank] sneezed and a very kind gentleman said 'God bless you,' and a tree branch fell and hit him on the head," said Sally Vawter, Frank's wife. 

City officials said Frank was struck by a branch that was eight inches in diameter. Firefighters arrived and attempted life saving measures, but he was pronounced dead. 

Sally said she is now trying to find the gentleman because he helped her husband as first responders came to the scene. 

Sally said Frank was a veteran: a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps and father of five children. 

"Frank was the best person I've ever met in my life," said Vawter. "He was a good man, very kind-hearted. He loved his children and was a great father." 

She added Frank was honored as the citizen of the year for acts of bravery in Mesa, Arizona. 

Just two weeks before his death, Sally said Frank had helped the family cut down a problematic tree in the backyard. 

"He had never cut a tree in his life before and two weeks later he was killed by a tree, so it seems quite ironic," said Sally. 

Sally added the family will always consider Frank to be their hero. They plan to hold a celebration of life ceremony for him. 

"We want to celebrate the good times," said Sally. "Not the terrible tragedy that's happened." 

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