Roy Arndt and his finacee. (Courtesy of the Arndt family, Facebook)
All lanes of westbound Interstate 20 west of Sigman Road in Rockdale County are blocked by a wreck. (Julie Wolfe, 11Alive News)
CONYERS, Ga. -- A tree fell on Interstate 20 in Rockdale County Tuesday morning, killing a 60-year-old commuter.
Roy Arndt of Oxford, Ga., died when the tree hit his car.
The wreck happened near Sigman Road at around 6:30 a.m. Westbound lanes were closed for more than two hours.
PHOTOS | Heavy rains cause trees to fall around the metro
Rockdale County Sheriff's Investigator Michael Camp said the accident caused a chain-reaction crash. A total of six vehicles were involved in smaller accidents as they tried to avoid hitting the truck, Camp said. No one else suffered any serious injuries.
Everyone who knew Roy Arndt describe him the way a coworker, Robin McGinnish, remembers him: "One of the kindest, finest men you'll ever know."
Arndt was a commercial printer. He worked for Geographics in southeast Atlanta for 34 years.
Arndt drove I-20 every workday between his home in Oxford and Geographics, a 68-mile round trip.
He was in the right-hand lane in Tuesday morning's rains when the tree fell on top of the cab of his pickup truck. An accident report said severe weather conditions caused the tree to fall.
"I mean, it's like the hand of God reaching down and just grabbing him," said Norvin Hagen, Arndt's boss. "I mean, that's such a freak accident."
The nearly 200 employees at Geographics, many of whom worked side by side with Arndt for decades, are grieving.
"Awful lot of these guys are very, very close to him. And it's just a sad day," Hagen said.
Arndt's grown son, Gabe Arndt, told 11Alive News by phone Tuesday that his parents divorced "about 20 years ago," and Arndt devoted his life to his job and to his year-round produce garden in the yard of his home.
"He loved gardening, he'd come home from work and the first thing he'd do, he'd be out working in his garden," Gabe Arndt said.
Arndt was always calling out to neighbors to come pick some vegetables from his garden.
"Just friendly, real nice," said Virginia Massey, who lives next door with her husband. "He would come out and wave me down and say, 'Ms. Massey, would you like to pick some turnip greens?'"
Robin McGinnis said Arndt was excited when she became interested in gardening and he'd give her helpful tips.
"He had such a nice, quiet, calm, patient demeanor," even when faced with seemingly impossible deadlines at work, McGinnis said. "Everyone knew Roy, they all knew him. And they would speak with him and he would always walk over, he visited, he was always so kind. And he was just a nice, smart, just a wonderful man. I lost my friend. He was my friend. He had a lot of knowledge and a lot of kindness and a lot of love."
Roy Arndt is survived by his grown son and daughter, his former wife, his fiancee and many friends.