State DOT worker killed by falling tree

State DOT worker killed by falling tree »Play Video
Billy Rhynalds is seen in this photo provided by family members.
CARNATION, Wash. -- A falling tree has killed a veteran employee of the Washington State Department of Transportation. The accident occurred late Sunday night on Highway 203 just south of Carnation, according to WSDOT Maintenance Superintendent Jim McBride. Billy "Bud" Rhynalds, 66, was setting up safety cones to alert motorists to power lines knocked down by the storm when the tree fell on his truck, hit him in the back of the head and killed him, McBride said. Rhynalds' wife said when she heard a knock at the door, she thought her husband had forgotten his keys. "Bud is notorious for misplacing keys," she said. But when she got to the door, she saw her husband's long-time co-worker and a state trooper. She then assumed her husband had gotten hurt on the job. "I'm anticipating them coming to take me to the hospital," said Betty Rhynalds. "And Steve (the co-worker) goes, 'There's no where to go. Betty, you need to sit down. We have something to tell you."' "I feel very numb, very shocked," said the victim's daughter, Aimee Sherrill. "DOT jobs are very dangerous. They risk their lives every day to keep the roads safe. And that's exactly what my dad was doing." Rhynalds, of North Bend, joined the department in 1998 after working for Weyerhaeuser and serving in the Washington National Guard. McBride said Rhynalds could have retired but loved his job and was so well liked by his co-workers that his family couldn't talk him into it. "We want our workers to come home safe every day, and it's just incredibly sad when that doesn't happen," said Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. "We'll review the situation." DOT said counselors will be available to help the victim's co-workers cope with the tragedy.