A 29-year veteran of the Town of Groton Department of Public Works was killed while driving to work Tuesday morning when strong storms rolled through the area and a tree came down onto his SUV.
Albert "Big Al" Smith, 50, of Ledyard, was driving southbound on Flanders Road, near Route 1, in the Mystic section of Groton, when the tree fell onto his car, according to Groton Town Police.
Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said he was alone in his car.
Groton Town Police Lt. John Varone said Smith was "a genuinely wonderful person to know" and called his death a "great loss to the town."
"His size dedicated his nickname Big Al, however, to all of us who knew him, a better description would be Teddy-bear Al," Varone wrote in an email Wednesday. "He was caring and compassionate."
The accident happened as violent storms brought down trees and wires along the shoreline, cutting power to thousands and possibly resulting a condo fire in Groton.
"Preliminary indications are it was due to an act of God," said Groton Town Police Chief L.J. Fusaro. "At this point, it's just a very unfortunate issue."