Driver: ‘I’m blessed’ after tree falls on car

Published 9:55 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Oct. 9 is a day that will be etched in Nicholas Gillott’s mind for years to come.

“I’m just lucky to be alive,” Gillott said.

On his way to work on Sunday morning, Nicholas Gillott’s car was crushed by a tree. He was able to walk away with just a concussion.

On his way to work on Sunday morning, Nicholas Gillott’s car was crushed by a tree. He was able to walk away with just a concussion.

Early Sunday morning, Gillott was on his way to work at a Norfolk naval base. The previous night brought heavy rain and strong winds from Hurricane Matthew.

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As he traveled eastbound on Route 58, a tree hung limply over the road and began to fall in Gillott’s direction. He didn’t have much time to react and attempted to swerve from the middle to the left lane to avoid a collision.

In the process, the car swerved out of control, and the tree struck the vehicle. The car rolled several times and came to a stop just a few feet from a ravine on the side of the road.

Gillott doesn’t recall if he blacked out. However, once he regained total consciousness, he kicked his door open and forced his way out of the totaled vehicle.

Once outside, he contemplated who to call first for help.

“I thought about calling the wife first,” Gillott said. “But, then I thought I should probably call the cops.”

Within a few minutes, an off-duty police detective came on scene, followed by more officers and firefighters.

Gillott eventually contacted his wife, Janée, and told her what happened.

“She thought it was a joke at first,” he said.

Gillott advised her to stay at home due to the flooding in their neighborhood. But, she advised against it.

Just as he was about to leave to head to Sentara Obici Hospital, Gillott said another tree collapsed a few feet away. For safety reasons, Gillott decided to ride in the tow truck to the hospital.

After several hours of tests and treatment, Gillott was diagnosed with a concussion. However, his primary care physician recommended he not go back to work until Monday.

“Everyone keeps asking if I played the lottery recently,” he joked.

Despite walking away with minor injuries, Gillott is now tasked with paying for his medical bills, his damaged car and for a new car. He only had liability insurance, which did not cover his circumstance.

He is considering GoFundMe, a crowd sourcing donation website, to assist with the expenses.

Originally, Janée refused to see the vehicle damage in fear of panicking. Once Gillott was released from the hospital, they both went to view the car at the tow station, and she was taken aback.

“She said, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe you made it through that,’” Gillott said.

Gillott, a father of four, is grateful to be alive.

“I’m blessed,” he said.