Woman Impaled By Tree Branch That Fell In Storm

Updated: 10/26/10 10:14 p.m.

LINDENHURST (CBS) — A Lake Villa woman was injured by a tree branch while driving her car during Tuesday morning’s storms.

Lindenhurst Police Cmdr. Kevin Klahs confirmed that Helen Miller of Lake Villa was impaled while she was driving a Smart Car on Grand Avenue near Deep Lake Road. High winds caused the branch from the 70-foot tree to fall and lodge in her abdomen.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman spoke to the victim’s husband, who says this isn’t the first time she’s defied the odds.

“It was a fluke accident,” said Todd Miller, Helen’s husband.

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new pops up,” said Cmdr. George Moravec, Lindenhurst Police Dept.

Blame it on the wind. Helen was on her way to work as a teacher when an oak tree came crashing down on her car.

Witnesses say the tree fell clear across the roadway. Emergency crews got to her in just moments.

“She couldn’t have picked a better spot. She was only about 300 feet from the fire rescue station,” said Moravec.

Call proximity one of the few lucky breaks.

It took rescue teams about 20 minutes to get her out of the car but she was conscious and breathing, Klahs said.

It turns out the branch that punctured her stomach found only abdominal fat and muscle, not her lungs or her stomach.

And doctors at Advocate Condell Medical Center knew Helen already.

“She’s in very good hands. We weren’t worried at all,” said Todd.

Helen was in a coma at the same hospital last year for 30 days after a heart condition nearly killed her.

“Last year was a really big year for us. So everything pales in comparison to that,” said Todd.

So coming into this situation was actually easier for Todd and Helen. She actually sang 80’s tunes on her way to the hospital.

“Vanilla Ice, if you must ask,” said Todd.

Todd says they are very blessed. Helen underwent surgery to stitch up her wounds. Now the couple is thinking of spending some time at a Florida condo.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman contributed to this report.

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/10/26/great-lakes-cyclone-bearing-down/ ‘Great Lakes Cyclone’ Slams Chicago « CBS Chicago – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] A woman was impaled by a falling tree branch in the northern suburbs while driving her car. […]

  • Nancy

    Smart Cars driving through cyclone force winds….. not much protection…Poor woman. Hope she will be OK.

  • Oldy22

    Any car would have been no protection. I pray the lady recovers. The oak tree is very sturdy and with that force it could tear into most cars.

  • bubba

    WOW. I was lucky 2 years ago. Same thing–same month–slightly larger car. VW beetle convertible with the top up. Branch falls as just the right millisecond, Wham on the windshield and rolls over the top of car. A millisecond different it would have hit my cranium instead of the windshield. Gosh I hope she will be O.K.

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/10/27/more-damaging-winds-sweeping-in/ More Damaging Winds Sweeping In « CBS Chicago – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] In Lindenhurst, the high winds knocked down a branch from a 70-foot tree, which was sent crashing on… […]

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/10/27/good-samaritan-on-helping-woman-impaled-by-tree/ Good Samaritan On Helping Woman Impaled By Tree « CBS Chicago – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] When a massive, wind-blown tree leveled a tiny Smart Car, impaling and trapping the driver inside, Odoms rushed in to help. […]

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