Cops: Tree kills man, woman in separate incidents

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kevin.deutsch@newsday.com

Suffolk police are investigating the death of a Centereach man who was killed while trying to cut down a tree damaged by last week's superstorm.

Nicholas Lourikas, 66, was with a co-worker helping cut down trees behind the Hauppauge Palace Diner when at about 10:54 a.m. Tuesday one of the trees struck him on the side of the head, said Homicide Chief Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick. Lourikas was taken to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown where he was pronounced dead.

"It was a tree that was leaning because of damage in the storm," Fitzpatrick said adding that an autopsy will be performed.

He said that this would be the third storm fatality handled by Suffolk police if the medical examiner rules he died from the blow to the head and not, for example, of a heart attack.

It would also be the eighth fatality related to superstorm Sandy on Long Island.

The other storm related death involves a homeless woman, who police identified Monday as Anne Marie Dolan, 57. Dolan was killed by a falling tree and found in the woods in Commack.

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It was not immediately clear when Dolan died.

Dolan was found dead about 3 p.m. Monday "in a tent where she was living in the woods," next to the Sports Authority store at 124 Veterans Memorial Hwy., police said in a news release. She had been staying in the tent during the recent storm and was killed when a tree fell on her, police said.

A female friend of Dolan who had a rough idea where she was staying went to check on her after the storm, police said. She saw the downed tree on the tent and called her husband, who looked inside and found Dolan, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene by a representative of the medical examiner's office.

A woman who once lived across the street from Dolan in Smithtown said she had moved out of her home in recent years and started living in the woods.

"She was a free spirit," said the neighbor, Jesse Emery, 55. "She loved politics. She loved art. She loved music. I don't know why she left her home and her family to go out there, but she lived on her own terms."

An employee at the Sports Authority store near the woods where Dolan was living said she gave Dolan bottled water and food the day before the storm.

"She was a nice woman," said the employee, who declined to give her name. "She used the bathroom in the store. I gave her some supplies to get through the storm. It's so sad that she lost her life this way."

Those supplies, along with religious books, clothes and an open generator box, lay strewn around the tent Tuesday near the tree that fell on Dolan.

There have been six other deaths related to Sandy on Long Island, including two others killed by falling trees; two people involved in separate car accidents at intersections without working traffic lights; and a man who fell and hit his head during the height of the storm. In addition, a body was found in the surf in East Hampton.

With David J. Lopez

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