Reporting Rachel Slavik
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.