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Rockland residents struggling with death of community fixture Anthony Apostolico, killed by fallen tree on Palisades Parkway

Pillar of Rockland County community killed in freak accident on Palisades Parkway
Pillar of Rockland County community killed in freak accident on Palisades Parkway 02:14

NORTH ROCKLAND, N.Y. -- There was a Father's Day tragedy in Rockland County.

A man traveling with two of his children was killed when a tree fell on their pickup truck. It happened northbound on the Palisades Interstate Parkway near Exit 16.

CBS2's Tony Aiello spoke with friends feeling the painful loss.

"He always had a smile. He always had a laugh," John Mate said.

Mate stopped to say a prayer Monday outside a business where the owner, 48-year-old Anthony Apostolico, became his friend.

Apostolico was killed in a freak accident on the Palisades on Sunday.

His son, 20-year-old Vincent Apostolico, was driving and was critically injured, police said.

"On Father's Day of all days. That is terrible. It is terrible. My prayers go out to the family," Mate said.

Anthony Apostolico was a fixture in North Rockland. His Italian Food Center had taken first prize in a recent Best Sandwich Contest.

Co-workers are feeling deep grief.

"It's tragic what happened. Anthony ...a great man. A great individual. Great big smile. Big heart," Sean Porter said.

Anthony Apostolico was known for his generous spirit, making donations to community groups, and helping other business owners just starting out.

Rock Alexander consulted with his friend before opening a healthy meal store a half-mile away.

"Anthony's words ring true to this day. 'You be nice to people, they'll be nice to you,'" Alexander said.

Alexander said he's heartbroken for the victim's wife, Tanya, and family.

Anthony Apostolico and two of their four kids were making the 25-mile drive home to Chester when the tree fell.

"They lost a father. We lost a friend. She lost a husband, but the community lost a staple, really lost a staple in the community," Alexander said.

Winds were gusting close to 40 mph when the tree fell, police said. The terrible accident is causing a loss that will be felt by many.

CBS2 asked the Palisades Interstate Park Commission for an update on safety inspections along that heavily-wooded stretch of the parkway. We'll let you know when we hear back.

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