D.C. police have identified the 32-year-old woman killed Thursday when a tree fell on her parked car on Reservoir Road NW as Phuong Nguyen, a native of Vietnam and a student at the Georgetown University School of Dentistry.
She lived at 107 N. George Mason Dr. in Arlington.
Police said a 65-foot-high tree on the grounds of the West German Embassy at 4645 Reservoir Rd. fell across her small car, crushing her inside just after she had let out a passenger about 6:30 p.m.
A police official yesterday confirmed reports that workers had been clearing trees on the embassy grounds earlier Thursday during heavy rain and the tree that fell on Nguyen's auto had been "partially sawed."
"However," said the official, who asked not to be identified, "whether that caused the tree to fall, the department cannot say . . . . We are not tree experts."
The official said the tree appeared to have broken at a point "other than where it had been cut." Investigators at the scene said the tree was about three feet in diameter at the base and had snapped off 6 1/2 feet above the ground.
West German Embassy officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. Embassy press spokesman Peter Mende was reported to be in West Germany attending the summit meeting of European, American and Japanese leaders.
Paul Piontkowski, 26, Nguyen's fiance and a passenger in the back seat of the car driven by Nguyen at the time of the incident, said in an interview yesterday that they had stopped the car adjacent to the embassy grounds to drop off a friend who lived nearby.
After the friend left the front passenger seat of the car, "I got out and was coming into the front seat . . .[when] I heard the crack of a tree. I looked up, and when I saw the tree coming down . . . all I could think was, my God, it's going to hit us."
When the tree fell, he said, "I could hear the crunch of the car, and it kind of pushed me down. I yelled to Nguyen , but I didn't hear anything."
Piontkowski, a dentist doing post-doctoral work at Georgetown University, said he scrambled out of the car and with the help of a passer-by pushed the tree off the car. "We got Nguyen out," he said. "She was bleeding profusely from the head . I knew it was over."
Piontkowski said Nguyen had lived in the United States almost 10 years and was scheduled to graduate from the dental school this spring.