Niles woman trapped in bed after tree falls through homePublished 11:13am Friday, December 21, 2012
A Niles woman became trapped in her own bed Friday morning after a falling tree ripped through the side of her home in downtown Niles.
Mildred Weiser, 53, was asleep on the first floor when the tree came crashing through the two-story home in the 500 block of Cass Street at around 4:50 a.m., causing the second floor to cave in on top of her.
Weiser’s sister, Doris Bowman, said she was already awake when the tree came down.
“All I heard was glass shattering and start flying,” Bowman said. “My sister started hollering ‘get it off me, get it off me, I can’t breathe.’ ”
Bowman and her two grandchildren, Tonya Baker, 19, and Ian Baker, 16, also in the house, attempted to free Weiser.
“I tried my lovely best to push it up, but it was too heavy,” Bowman said.
A tactical rescue team from Niles City Fire Department arrived and freed Weiser after 15 to 20 minutes of work, said Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb.
“It was a very dangerous situation,” Lamb said. “The concern the guys had when they made entry was possible collapse if they start to move the joist that’s on the person lying in bed there. They had to really go slow to make sure it went right.”
Weiser was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital, where she was treated for broken ribs, according to Bowman.
“They said she’s going to be all right,” Bowman said.
Another woman, 36-year-old Shawnette Baker, was asleep on the second floor of the home when the tree crashed through her room.
Shawnette woke up outside the home on a tree, according to next-door neighbor Audrey Hostetler.
“She said she didn’t wake up until she was on the tree,” Hostetler said. “She doesn’t know what happened between the bed and the tree. She sleeps through about anything.”
Hostetler said Shawnette immediately came to her house to call 911.
Of the five people in the home, only Weiser sustained significant injuries. Shawnette had cuts on her feet, according to Hostetler.
The “extra thick” memory foam mattress Weiser was sleeping on might have saved her life.
“They (emergency personnel) said if she was lying on something hard it would’ve probably crushed her insides,” Hostetler said. “That bed is so thick it took most of the impact.”
There were five dogs in the home as well. Tonya said two 12-week-old pit bull puppies are missing. The other three dogs are safe.
When the tree fell, Tonya was on a first-floor couch with three of the dogs.
“I never got up off a couch faster in my life —not even for food,” Tonya said.
Tonya and Ian are both students in the WAY Niles program, an alternative education program in the Niles Community Schools district.
The family is currently staying at the Hostetler’s home next door.
Bowman said it’s been a rough couple weeks for her family. Her husband, John, passed away Dec. 15 at the age of 64.
“When my sister started hollering all I could think is I’ve got another funeral,” said Bowman, who does not have the money to pay for her husband’s funeral.
The tree likely fell due to high winds during a winter storm.