VDOT rescinds bill sent to couple whose car was destroyed by toppled tree

By Carlos Santos

VDOT has rescinded the bill sent to Charles and Carolyn Westrater for removing the pine tree that toppled onto their car.

The Westraters were driving east on Rt. 53 on March 7 when the huge pine tree fell across their four-door sedan. The tree, possibly uprooted by high winds that day, smashed in the roof and totaled their car.

The accident was shocking enough – the couple luckily sustained only minor injuries – but then they received a bill on March 15 for $2,440.36 for the labor and equipment used to clear the pine tree off their car and off the road.

Sharon Ketcham, a spokeswoman for VDOT’s Culpeper office, said they issued an apology to the Westraters for the stress the bill caused. “It was “basically an accounting error. Not all the factors were present when the bill was made out,” she said.

Ketcham noted that the tree, which blocked both lanes of the road, would have been removed by VDOT anyway.

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