HINCKLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — An 11-year-old girl from Hinckley, Minn., died after a tree limb fell on her during Friday’s storm.

She was camping with family at a site in Spooner, Wis., when the storm hit.

The towering trees in Spooner typically provide protection from the elements. On Friday, however, those trees posed the biggest threat.

“It was windy, came up real fast,” said Zach Berg, a camper. “We heard snapping tree limbs.”

A busy playground quickly emptied as nearly a dozen kids ran for cover.

Tom Diesterhaft said his daughter was nearly hit by a branch when it broke off a tree. Fortunately, his daughter remained unharmed throughout the storm.

When most of the children at the campground were under shelter, Diesterhaft heard a mother calling for her daughter, so he went to help.

“I found [the woman’s daughter] underneath a tree,” Diesterhaft said. “I yelled for help to get the tree off her. I couldn’t move it.”

It took about 10 people to lift the limb and remove the girl, but it was too late. The girl had died.

By Sunday the playground had reverted to place of solace rather than sorrow.

Diesterhaft, however, said he has trouble sleeping at night. He also can’t help but think of what the next storm may bring.

“I wouldn’t even know how to prevent it from happening again,” Diesterhaft said.

Campers say if it would have rained before the wind hit, the kids wouldn’t have been at the playground. The storm took everyone by surprise, they said.

Comments (7)
  1. JKB says:

    Condolences to the family. I am very sorry for your loss.

  2. BS Headline says:

    That is a stupid headline to a story. lol What BS

  3. Mary says:

    It wouldn’t be stupid if it happened to you, though, right? Can’t wait for the next lightining strike….

  4. JKB says:

    The headline is a bit confusing. It almost sounds as though the man was only able to talk AFTER he saw the child get killed. Around here, we are hearing a variety of stories. One is that the child was killed at a resort on Clam Lake West of Spooner on Hwy 70 where another life was lost due to a storm a few years ago. Another states the incident took place East of Spooner. Perhaps this witness could/would inform us of the correct location. Again, my sympathy to the family. For all the surviviors this storm was a harrowing moment in your life. We are all happy you made it through safely.

  5. KKL says:

    This was someones beautiful baby girl! And the man sharing his story is a wonderful father and man who is heart broke for her family and thankful to still has his. His daughter was playing with this little girl only 5 min before the storm came and took her away. He was right there to help and did all humanaly possible to aid in lifting that huge red oak off of her! Really how do you put into words the tradegy of it all.
    Does it really matter what campground it was at? There are many and they all have trees that can fall, if you think you have the answer as to how natures rath and gods will can be beat – let me know!
    My parents campground on yellow lake has not much left to it, and so thankful no one was hurt there. Around 300 plus trees down there.

  6. saddened says:

    My heart is out to the family of that poor little girl. Its nice to know that there are stil people out there willing to help out when there is someone in trouble. Again my thoughts and prayers are with the girls family. Thanks to everyone that tried helping the family.

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