A GOOD Samaritan escaped death when his van was crushed by a falling tree, seconds after he had got out to help a distressed family.
But builder Mark Quaid's relief later turned to anger when he returned to the vehicle to find his work tools had been looted.
The 37-year-old had gone to the aid of a woman and three children whose car had become stuck in a ditch in extremely stormy conditions.
The woman had been trying to drive around a fallen tree on a narrow road, about three kilometres outside Limerick city, on the way to Cratloe.
“It's a small country road with massive trees on either side. I drove down there and there was a lady on the side of the road. A small tree fell and she got stuck on the side of the ditch,” Mr Quaid told the Herald.
“I drove past. I was looking and I said ‘I have to help her.’ She had her kids inside the car and she was stuck on the side of the track,” he explained.
The woman's children were aged between two and five, said Mr Quaid, of Ennis Road in Coonagh, Limerick.
“She was very grateful, and she said ‘thank you so much.’”
“We got her out and she took off like there was no tomorrow.
“The next minute I turned around and a tree was falling on the van just as I was walking back to it. It totally wrecked it,” he said.
“I couldn't believe it. I'm still in shock. It was serious. I've never experienced anything like it. It really gives you a fright”.
Mr Quaid, who does building maintenance, renovations and repairs, said the winds at 2pm yesterday when the incident happened were “very, very strong”.
“It was unreal. Where I was, where these trees were, they're so, so big. They're massive. They're there a long time. To hear them ... I could hear them in the background creaking as I was pushing the car out of the ditch.
"Someone had cut it open. It was an experience. It was unbelievable,” he said.