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If a tree falls...

Updated on January 12, 2017

In March of 1991, I worked in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. I drove the same route to and from work everyday. I loved my route. One area had large trees on both sides of the street, they seemed to hug each other over my head. This tunnel made me feel happy when I drove through.

Windy day

On this day when I went to work the wind was blowing. It made the trees on my route seem to be shaking hands instead of hugging. It blew my hair around as I went into my building for the day of work.


I had been inside all day. There wasn't a t.v. or radio in the lounge, so I didn't know the weather until I went out.

A gust of wind hit and my hair covered my face. I decided to hurry to my car. I fought with the wind to open my door. I turned on the radio hoping to find out if I should be worried about the gusting wind.

There were no reports, so I told myself ," be careful ", and I started my drive home.

Entering the danger zone

A strange feeling of fear washed over me as I entered my tunnel of trees. I couldn't figure out why my "happy place" was scaring me.

A gust of wind rocked my car. The slow motion scene began.

I saw what I thought was a branch and I was trying to figure out how I would get around it. Then an entire clump of branches came into sight. I suddenly realized, the whole tree was coming down.

I ducked down in my seat and turned the wheel all the way to the left. I thought I could get turned around. No such luck. The tree stopped the car. A branch caved the roof in across the back of my neck.

Waking up

I'm not sure how long I was knocked out. I opened my eyes and was looking at the floor of my car. I saw the broken glass. I was worried that no one knew I was in the car.

I looked up, big mistake. My sight was gone, all I could see was white blinding light. A horrible ringing started in my ears. My arms went numb and dropped off the steering wheel. I was in trouble.

Getting attention

I had to find out if anyone knew I was here. I could wiggle my fingers, but I didn't have much strength to lift my arms. I kept trying until finally I could use my left hand. I couldn't use just one hand. I grabbed my right hand with my left then dropped them onto the horn. I was happy the horn sounded, because that took all my strength. My hands dropped back down to my sides.

Help arrives

The ringing in my ears finally stopped and my sight was returning.

I heard a knock on the passenger window. Then a womans voice told me to unlock the door. It took everything again to control my arm to do as she asked.

She sat down in the passenger seat and asked questions. I hadn't tried to talk yet. As I tried to answer, it wasn't my voice, not the one I was used to hearing anyway. It was hoarse and I was whispering. She seemed to realize it was hard for me to talk. She told me she'd stay with me and that an ambulance was on the way.

Getting me out

When the ambulance arrived, they told the woman she had to get out of my car. She exited and 3 fire fighters climbed in. 1 in the front and 2 in the back. The one in the front asked what hurt and put a neck brace on me. The 2 in the back were talking about how to get me out. I heard one say, "the jaws?" The other one said, "yes, I think we need to take the roof off". First voice again said "okay, on the way".

I'm not sure why, but I didn't like them saying that. I'm not sure I believed my car was beyond repair. I decided I needed to tell them the better way. I said, "excuse me". The one in the passenger seat said , " yes mame". I asked if he could see the big black wheel on the right side of my seat. He said, "yes". I told him if he turned that wheel toward the back seat my chair would recline. He said "okay". (His okay sounded like a question) Then I told him the back seats could be folded down. Again his response of, "okay" (sounded like a question). I told him the whole back of my car opens. Still he didn't seem to understand what I was telling him. I thought in my head, " aren't you trained for this". None of them seemed to be accepting my input and I wondered if what I heard myself saying was what they were hearing or was my brain lieing.Then I said, " get my keys, open my trunk, lay down the seats, and get me outta here." Now, all listening said "yes mame".


I sustained a broken neck, pinched a nerve in my right arm, and had a piece of glass in my left hand.


I was placed in a device called a halo for 3 months to allow my neck to heal. This device isn't used anymore.



This lovely device weighed 25 pounds. My favorite comment to people that say something about my size is ("I was top heavy at one time".) I love the looks I get, because they don't know this story.

Perminent Damage

I lost memories of years before the accident. Unless it was dramatic, it's gone.

I have nerve damage in my right arm. If I move it the wrong way, I drop whatever is in my hand.

Short term memory is awful. If I don't write it down or do it again and again, it's not part of my life.

3 of the bones in my neck were damaged. The doctor said the number five, six, and seven were all envolved. The first one was fractured, the second one was crushed, and the third was dislocated. The dislocated one is the one that would've caused me to be paralyzed from the neck down.

I had to take a lot of tests while I was recovering. I found out my reaction time is 2 seconds slower than other people. You'd think, no big deal. ( People notice.)

My car

This is what my car looked like after.



This was what was in the local paper. They didn't do a follow up. They mention not knowing my name. No one ever told me if they tried to find out who I was.

Local article


So, my answer is: "it didn't make a sound."


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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 15 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for sharing this. I live in a rural area and there are tall trees on each side of the road for almost half of the 45 minute drive to town. I often wonder what would happen (praying that it never does) if one of the larger ones fell across the road when a car was passing. (You have doubled up the information here so you should delete the second half of the hub.)