by: Richard Thompson Updated:PACKWOOD, Wash. —
When a windstorm battered the Puget Sound area Saturday, conditions were even worse near Packwood, according to John Gardner, who was hunting with friends and family.
"The wind was blowing about 70 mph or better. I thought more than that, and I heard three or four trees fall down," he said.
John's brother Joe Gardner, 69, had just returned to camp with a hunting part about 2:30 p.m.
Joe went inside a big tent shelter and that's when the fierce wind snapped the top off a 100-foot tall tree and it came crashing down on the structure -- and Joe.
"He probably didn't even know what happened, that's what the coroner said anyway," John said.
John said his brother had no time nor ability to escape the falling tree.
Photos from the Lewis County Sheriff's Office show the 20-foot section of tree that hit with deadly force. Joe's hunting partner was able to crawl inside the tent shelter to get to Joe. He tried to perform CPR but it was obvious that he could not be saved.
Now Joe's loved ones are trying to comprehend the sudden, bizarre, and tragic events they said killed a good and loving man.
Joe Gardner worked for years at Boeing and lived in Kirkland with his wife. He is the father of two grown children.
"The only thin good I think that could come of this is at least my brother didn't have to get old and go through old age. He lived a good life. I love him," John said.