'Devoted’ N.Y. Middle School Vice Principal Dies After Tree Falls on Him While Visiting Family
A New York educator was enjoying spring break with his family but tragically died after a tree fell on him, authorities said.
Elias "Eli" Smith died Saturday after suffering "multiple injuries" during the freak accident in Carmel, Indiana, the Carmel Police Department confirmed in a press release.
Smith — a 40-year-old vice principal at the Math and Science Exploratory School, MS 447 in Brooklyn — was visiting his parents' home for spring break when the incident unfolded, according to WABC.
Family members told the outlet he had been sitting around a fire pit with his brother when a storm rolled in.
Though they both attempted to run inside for cover, Smith sadly did not make it and was crushed by the tree in his parents' yard, according to WABC and Carmel Police.
In the wake of the tragedy, a GoFundMe page was set up for Smith's family. On the fundraiser, which has raised over $150,000, the father of two was remembered him as "one of a kind."
"He had a brilliant, inquisitive mind, a quirky sense of humor, and a kind soul," the page reads. "He was a devoted educator, and he made a positive impact on the lives of many through his work in the classroom and as an administrator."
"He had an expansive range of passions and interests, and brought a spark of enthusiasm to any gathering of friends," the page continues. "Most importantly, though, Eli was a family man … an incredibly loving and supportive husband to Lindsey and father to Evie and Beau."
According to the page's organizer, Thomas Sokol, all proceeds from the GoFundMe will go towards Smith's wife and kids as they move forward without their beloved husband and dad.
"Eli's sudden passing leaves a hole in the lives of many, but none will feel his absence more acutely than Lindsey, Evie, and Beau," Sokol wrote. "They have an uncertain road ahead, and must deal with unspeakable grief while also sorting out how to move forward."
"The Smith family needs the help and support of friends near and far now more than ever," Sokol added. "Let's show them the love that Eli always took the time to show us."
Carmel Police say they are currently investigating the fatal incident in partnership with Hamilton County Emergency Management officials and the National Weather Service.
Those interested in donating to Smith's GoFundMe page can do so here.
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