Woman crushed, killed by falling tree while sitting in parked car

A woman was seated in her parked car near the Grove when a tree fell and crushed her car. (SOURCE: KMOV)
Published: Jul. 2, 2023 at 4:27 PM EDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV/Gray News) - A woman in Missouri was killed while sitting in her car after a tree collapsed on it during a storm on Saturday.

KMOV reports the tree fell just before 5:30 p.m. as storms rolled through St. Louis.

Officials said the woman was pronounced dead on the scene.

Helen Petty told KMOV the woman was trying to wait out the bad weather in her car when the tree fell.

“They had saws and cut off both the doors of the car,” Petty said. “They were cutting giant huge tree limbs off. Hoisting them with ropes and pulleys.”

Petty said another neighbor was also sitting in his car next to the victim’s vehicle before the incident.

The tree also crushed his car, but Petty said he was able to get out safely.

“He went over to her, as did the owner of the Mexican restaurant down the street,” Petty said. “He came running over and spoke to her. She was responsive. She was alive and started calling 911 and couldn’t get through.”

Petty said she didn’t know the woman well but that she was young and had moved to the neighborhood a few weeks before.

“I can’t imagine dying in a car waiting for an emergency response team for God knows how long,” Petty said.

After calling 911 repeatedly, Petty said it took nearly 40 minutes to get emergency responders on the scene.

“When you’re on hold and when you can’t get through for 30, 40 minutes, an hour, and somebody is literally dying,” Petty said.

Petty said other neighbors stayed with the woman while waiting for emergency crews to arrive.

“I am furious,” Petty said. “Not at the fire department. They were working tirelessly as soon as they got here and got the call, but our governor, in my opinion, is responsible. He cut millions of dollars in funding that was meant to improve our 911 system.”

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of Public Safety released a statement in response to the incident.

“Today’s severe storms created a large volume of 911 calls to police and fire dispatch,” the spokesperson said. “The Department of Public Safety is aware of the social media posts in question and is investigating the circumstances that led up to this incident.”

A neighbor who asked to stay anonymous said she stayed with the woman and held her hand and prayed for her until emergency crews arrived on scene.

No further information on the woman or the incident has yet been released.