Worker Killed by Falling Tree on Capitol Grounds

People gather for the Tax March rally on the west lawn of the Capitol on April 15, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — A pipefitter was killed today by a large falling tree on Capitol Hill.

Congress is out for the Easter break and traffic was light when the 30- to 40-foot section of tree fell across Independence Avenue near the Rayburn House Office Building this morning.

“It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Architect of the Capitol employee, Matthew McClanahan, following an accident on the U.S. Capitol Grounds,” Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers said in a statement. “A large branch of an American Elm fell and struck Matt, who was working nearby on an irrigation pipe.”

“Matt was a talented, dedicated pipefitter in the Maintenance Division of Capitol Grounds,” Ayers added. “Please keep his family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the tree fall “a tragic accident.”

“Matthew and his wife, Lauren, have two young children, Evie and Matthew. Their loss is so sudden and unimaginable,” Ryan said in a statement. “I ask my colleagues and everyone in the Capitol community to keep Matthew’s loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”

Capitol workers are busy removing the rest of the old tree.