ABINGTON — There was a loud cracking and then a thunderous thud.
Brian Easton was in his driveway shoveling snow when he saw a towering tree rip through his neighbor’s yard, fall through the power lines, and crash down onto a car traveling along Rockland Street Sunday morning, killing two people inside.
“What I saw was pretty horrific,” said Easton, 49, who immediately ran to the car to help before shouting for his wife to call 911. “My heart goes out to the family of the people.”
Easton said one person in the vehicle was unresponsive and he saw a hand in the passenger seat. The center of the car was completely crushed, he said.
The Abington Fire Department responded to the 10:15 a.m. accident in front of 257 Rockland St. within seconds, department chief John M. Nuttall said at a news conference at the department’s headquarters Sunday.
Authorities identified the victims as Franklin Teixeira, 49, and Manuela Teixeira, 51, of Whitman. Franklin Teixeira was the driver of the 2015 BMW, according to the Plymouth district attorney’s office. Neighbors said the two were married.
A woman who described herself as Manuela Teixeira’s sister declined to comment when reached by phone Sunday evening.
Neighbors described the couple as nice and friendly, often seen walking their beagle named Buddy.
“They were the nicest people you could meet,” said David Dillon, 50, who knew them for nearly two decades. “They would do anything for you.”
The couple had a son in his 20s who lived with them, said neighbor Victor Dapsys, 64.
He said the Teixeiras were natives of Portugal. It’s unclear when they moved to Massachusetts. Together, they owned two Dunkin’ Donuts in Rockland.
Dillon said he was stunned by the loss of the couple.
“It’s horrible,” Dillon said.
Nuttall described a harrowing scene as fire and other emergency officials worked frantically to remove the two victims. An additional ambulance and a hydraulic rescue device were requested, Nuttall said. It took 30 minutes to get the second victim out of the car, which was surrounded by downed wires.
“It was a difficult extrication,” Nuttall said. “If you can imagine a small car with a large tree falling on it . . . it just completely crushed the passenger compartment.”
Both victims were in critical condition and taken to South Shore Hospital, where they died, Nuttall said.
Franklin and Manuela Teixeira had been driving down the road when the tree fell. Officials said the large tree was rotted and probably fell because of the windy weather conditions and snow. Shortly before the crash, a NOAA sensor recorded wind gusts as high as 47 miles per hour in Plymouth.
Shattered glass remained scattered across the road hours after the accident.
“Obviously this is not the outcome anybody wishes we had,” Nuttall said.
At 2 p.m., fire officials responded to another accident involving a tree. A branch had fallen onto a vehicle on Plymouth and Central streets, Nuttall said. No one was injured in that incident. The vehicle was damaged and had to be towed from the scene.
In recent months, several people have been killed by falling trees. Volunteer firefighter Derek Lankowski, 31, of Lyndeborough, N.H., was killed last month when a wind-blown tree fell on his pickup truck as he drove through Weare.
In February, collapsing trees claimed the lives of two people in Canton. Thomas Gunning, 48, was killed after he was struck by a tree limb while tending to an outdoor hockey rink. And 6-year-old Kaleigh Kenyon died after she was hit by a large branch in her yard.
Sunday morning’s deadly accident had residents in the area on edge.
“The trees are falling everywhere,” said Robert Andrews, 63, who lives across the street from where the tree fell.
He said he had called city officials about rotted trees.
“That was just really bad, bad luck,” he said. “It could have been anybody.”