Woman crushed, killed by tree while sitting in parked car during storm

A woman was seated in her parked car when a tree fell and crushed her car.
Published: Jul. 2, 2023 at 7:30 AM EDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV/Gray News) - A woman was seated in her parked car when a tree fell and crushed her car.

The incident happened at the 4100 block of Chouteau just before 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Helen Petty said the woman tried to wait out the storm in her car when the tree fell.

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

Petty said in the car next to the woman was another neighbor also sitting in his car.

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 said she was young and had moved to the neighborhood just a few weeks ago.

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

Petty said after calling and calling, 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 says.

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.”

In response to the situation, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of Public Safety said, “Today’s severe storms created a large volume of 911 calls to police and fire dispatch. 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 women, holding her hand and praying for her until emergency crews arrived on scene.