AP NEWS

new milford Severe thunderstorm leaves 1 dead

July 24, 2018

NEW MILFORD — A memorial service will be held this weekend for a man who was killed by a fallen tree last week after a severe thunderstorm rolled through the area.

A friend of the family, who asked not to be named, has identified the victim as Richard Vanak.

Police said he was traveling along Erickson Road shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday when his car hit a tree branch that apparently fell during the storm. Vanak was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to his obituary, Vanak left behind a wife and three children. He graduated from Danbury High School in 1999 and went on to co-own and operate Pro Image Landscaping.

“He was most at peace spending time at the beach with his family, taking in the warmth of the sun and sharing conversation,” the obituary states. “Throughout his career, Rick formed lasting relationships with business partners and community members.”

Vanak also enjoyed watching both football and baseball, particularly when his favorite teams, the New England Patriots and the New York Yankees were playing. He was also an avid NASCAR fan.

Vanak’s death is the third storm-related fatality in the region so far this year. Two people were killed in May when severe thunderstorms and a macroburst took down trees and power lines throughout the area.

One Danbury man was mowing his lawn during the storm and took shelter in a truck that was hit by a tree. A 41-year-old woman in New Fairfield was also killed when a tree struck her car. A 3-year-old who was in the car survived the accident.

Visiting hours for Vanak will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Our Lady of the Lakes on Old Town Park Road in New Milford. A memorial service will follow the calling hours.

In lieu of flowers, family members are asking that friends donate money to his children’s college funds.

dperrefort@newstimes.com

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