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Woman Blaming City For Injuries From Fallen Tree

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Jackie Granlund

Jackie Granlund suffered a concussion and facial fractures when a large tree limb fell on her car during a major thunderstorm on June 21, 2011. (Photo Courtesy: Jackie Granlund)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – During a major storm last month that brought heavy rain and two tornadoes to the Chicago area, one woman was trapped in her car for several minutes after a large tree limb came crashing down on the car just feet away from her home.

Eyewitness John Yundt said the limb that hit Jackie Granlund’s car on June 21 was almost half of the tree from which it had fallen.

“Someone told me it was close to six tons,” he said. “It destroyed a car. The car that it hit here was totaled.”

That six-ton tree limb came crashing down on the car Jackie Granlund was riding in during a fierce storm and it happened right around the corner from her North Side house.

She said she had gone out with a co-worker for dinner after work and, as they were driving home, the weather changed suddenly and “it got very windy and started pouring rain.”

Granlund said she called her daughter from the car to tell her to open the front door to her house so she could just run inside from the car to avoid getting completely soaked in the rain.

“And all of a sudden, the whole roof came in,” she said. “And fortunately we were driving past a parked car that the tree fell onto also, otherwise it probably would have been worse for us.”

Yundt and others heard the crash and ran out to help.

“You could also see where the tree hit the car, it missed killing them by only a matter of a foot or two,” he said.

“I feel lucky to be alive. I feel very lucky to be alive,” Granlund said.

Granlund was left with a mild concussion, pretty bad facial bruises, a banged-up leg and an emergency room bill for nearly $6,000.

But Yundt, the man whose house is right under the top part of that tree – which sits on a city parkway – said he is angry that city officials didn’t do something about the tree before the storm, even though he’d repeatedly complained the tree appeared to be rotting and could be dangerous.

“My first instinct was all the calls that I’ve been making about the tree and telling them that this was going to keep happening and are they going to wait till somebody gets hurt,” he said. “And then I thought, it’s happened; someone’s been hurt.”

“I’ve called the city about the tree, probably once a year, for the last four years and what I’m usually told is that there’s a long wait list and they’ll send somebody out,” he added.

Granlund said she thinks the city should have cut down the tree altogether.

“It’s hard for me to believe that they couldn’t take down a tree that has been complained about,” Granlund said.

Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) said crews have gone out and trimmed the tree at least once in the past year, they just didn’t take it down completely because crews determined the trees were still alive.

“The portion of the tree that came down still has a portion that was alive after the branch fell off,” O’Connor said. “It’s not the city’s policy to come down and cut live trees.”

O’Connor also said that, when trees are on city property, homeowners cannot cut them down either. He said tree trimming is now done on a grid – or area-wide – system, instead of by ward. So, he conceded that tree trimmers might only get to areas once a year, if that often.

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