The tree fell across all four lanes of the Saw Mill River Parkway north of New York City at about 6 p.m. Monday and smashed onto the back of a southbound SUV, rolling it over onto the shoulder, where it came to rest on its roof.
The driver, 27-year-old Stephen Spruck and his 31-year-old wife, Suzana Dedivanaj-Spruck of Yonkers were killed. The couple's 6-month-old daughter, Kristina, was strapped into a safety seat in the back and was rescued from inside the vehicle by police and firefighters, Westchester Deputy Police Commissioner William Rehm said.
She was hospitalized in fair condition Monday night, said police spokesman Sgt. Bruce Bellom. A call seeking an update Tuesday morning was not returned. The victims' names were not made public.
Bellom said the safety seat probably saved the girl's life.
A second, northbound car was hit by the tree and its front end was heavily damaged but the driver, Tatiana Ferraro, was not seriously injured.
"There was no wind, no rain. It was a perfect day," she said. "I saw the tree coming and I said to myself, 'I can't believe this is happening.' I braked and the car was badly damaged. But I'm in one piece and that's close to a miracle."
What caused the large, bare-branched tree to fall was unknown, but it had been rooted on the slope of a hill above the southbound lanes.