WISE, Va. (WJHL) — A Southwest Virginia man pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter after a tree he allegedly cut down fell onto a woman’s car, killing her.
In February 2019, Tony Curtis Osborne, 39 of Pound, cut a 30-foot-tall tree on a hill overlooking U.S. 23, which smashed into 64-year-old Iris Walker’s car as she was driving down the highway, according to the Wise County commonwealth’s attorney.
Iris was dead before anyone could render help, according to the commonwealth’s attorney.
The tree was not on Osborne’s property nor did he have permission to fell it.
“He was not working for VDOT. He did not set warnings for traffic. He did not close off the closest lane of traffic. He did not attempt to anchor the tree so it could not fall toward the road. He did not cut the tree so it would fall uphill,” the commonwealth’s attorney’s office said in a release. “Upon arrest, he informed the magistrate he sold firewood at $60 a load, and he had been doing this for two years.”
“This man was engaged in the illegal harvesting of a tree from someone else’s land at a location where the risk to the lives of anyone who happened to be on the highway below was blatantly obvious,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ken Lammers said. “Iris Walker didn’t deserve to be killed, and Osborne deserves to be held responsible for taking her life.”
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 21.