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Carnivorous Mushrooms? Leaching Septic Tank? Trade Winds? Barking Dogs? What Killed Rich Doumeng’s Flamboyant Tree? The Final Mystery of the Year 2020

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder.

The last day of the year of coronavirus — the dreaded COVID-19 — I mean what could go wrong today? Right? LOL!

It is a mystery that involves barking dogs, carnivorous mushrooms, lurking septic tanks and toppling trees — and that is the good news for today — because the ‘rona virus will come back for an encore in 2021 — which is the bad news.

A prominent St. Thomas business man said he was awakened by the sounds of dogs barking early this morning.

Richard Doumeng, the managing director of the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, said he heard dogs barking in his neighborhood about 6:15 a.m. today.

So 15 minutes later, Doumeng gets out of bed to see what the commotion is all about.

One of the trees in his yard had toppled over — for no apparent reason — that was the reason the dogs were barking.

“One of our few surviving flamboyant trees had simply fallen over, crashed through the fence and blocked the driveway. Really?” Doumeng said. “My final entry in the WTF 2020 Book?”

E.J. Armstrong asked Doumeng if the tree was near a septic tank — wondering how it died.

“It’s down hill from the septic but not in ‘line of fire,'” Doumeng replied. “It has been covered in big moldy (never before seen) mushrooms that my uninformed brain ever looked into.”

The prominent St. Thomas businessman said that it has rained a lot in St. Thomas this holiday season — and the Trade Winds have been strong as well — which might have contributed to the tree’s sudden demise.

“It’s been Christmas windy and above average rainy,” he said. “But it just tipped over out of the ground.”

Doumeng said his friendly neighbor Rick Nemeth and son had a chainsaw, and perseverance to help him tidy up the mess in his yard.

“Muy muchas gracias!” he said. “A good man who’s got chainsaw skills!”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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