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'Dogs saved my life,' says woman crushed by fallen tree

Having been trapped by a falling tree in a freak tornado, a dog walker thanks members of the public and the emergency services for her lucky escape

Maria Morgan from Church Crookham is lucky to be alive after being crushed by a fallen tree while walking her dogs at Fleet Pond

A dog walker has relived the horror of being left for dead after being trapped under a fallen tree following a freak tornado.

Maria Morgan said she owes her life to her dogs and all the people who helped her after she was crushed by the tree while walking at Fleet Pond.

Ms Morgan, a acupuncturist and herbalist, was walking with her two rescued Staffie dogs, Lulu, 12, and Dizzi, three, on August 10 as the remains of ex-Hurricane Bertha swept across the country.

“At first everything was fine and the weather was lovely,” she recalled. “It was clear and bright but then everything changed.

“The birds just stopped signing and everything turned black.

“I looked at the dogs and they looked at me and I just said ‘run, car’.

“We started running and the trees were exploding around us. It was like a hurricane.”

Ms Morgan, 60, said she was hit by the tree as they ran towards her car in Chestnut Grove.

“Something that felt like a 60mph train hit the back of my neck and I fell through the air. I landed and knew immediately I had broken bones because I felt them break and felt sick.”

The impact broke a bone in her neck, five lower vertebrae and three ribs, along with three breaks in her leg and a crushed ankle.

Ms Morgan said a 60-foot Canadian Pine weighing about two tons had blown over and pushed another tree on top of her.

“I was caught between the boardwalk and the trees and nobody could see me,” she added. “Lulu wriggled under the tree and kept licking my face to stop me from going unconscious. She was running and barking at everyone to get their attention.”

Two runners came long and "saved her life" by calling an ambulance.

“Three paramedics in cars arrived on the scene and there were 10 people chopping away to get the tree off me," she said. “Fleet firefighters were fantastic and one man sat under me and had my head in his hand for two-and-a-half hours.

“His whole body was shaking and he kept saying ‘I’m not letting her go’.”

By this time some friends of Ms Morgan’s, who live close to Fleet Pond, had arrived and taken her dogs into their garden. But Lulu jumped the five-bar gate to come back to her owner.

“All the time the storm was horrific and all the trees were in a dangerous position,” added Ms Morgan.

Ms Morgan was finally released and taken by ambulance to the trauma unit at St George’s Hospital in Tooting.

Two of her acupuncturist friends, Ian Stones and Kate Freemantle, were at the hospital the minute she arrived.

“I had a CAT Scan and the surgeon said I’d been amazingly lucky.

“He said he’d never seen anything like it and did not know how I was alive,” she added.

Ms Morgan, who will be in a full head and neck brace for about three months, said all the hospital staff had been ‘fantastic’ and her care ‘outstanding’.

She thanked everyone who stopped and helped her, adding: “We should be proud of our town and how amazing everyone has been.”

Her beloved pets are now back at Ms Morgan's home in Church Crookham and being looked after by her lodger and neighbours.

“The dogs were wonderful,” she said. “They saved my life, along with all the other people who helped.”

 

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