Giant oak crushes car, just misses house

No one injured as two women enter the house as tree falls
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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“Too close for comfort” and “lucky” is how two local women describe barely escaping being crushed by a massive oak tree last week. The tree toppled over March 24 after days of strong winds and constant rains that saturated the ground. Thursday afternoon, Veronica Dodge-Souza, of Newcastle, planned to make a quick stop at the King Road home of her friend, Malisa Hornug. Hornug greeted Dodge-Souza outside, under the canopy of towering oak trees. “We started to go back into the house, and the tree fell as we closed the door,” Hornug said Friday morning. Dodge-Souza remembers the noises the falling tree made. “As soon as we closed the front door we heard the loud, thundering and crashing sound … and the ground shake,” Dodge-Souza said. From inside, they could hear the tree’s branches hit the roof and scratch the front door. The roof sustained minor damage. Hornug runs a day care in her home and sitting at the dining table next to a window near the front door were six children, ages 6 to 14, including Hornug’s own kids. While the children “were panicky,” no one was injured, Hornug said. “We’re very fortunate nobody was hurt,” Hornug said. “The branches came within 2 inches of hitting the window the kids were sitting next to.” Although they weren’t hurt, both women were shaken. “Fortunately it hit the roof and broke the fall. It didn’t touch the glass at all,” Dodge-Souza said. “My knees still knock when I think about it.” The oak tree, which measured 36 inches in diameter at one spot, crushed Dodge-Souza’s 2001 GMC. Hornug’s Suburban had been parked in front of the garage and sustained some damage to the front of the vehicle. But Hornug was more concerned about her friend’s vehicle than the damage to her property. “My friend’s car is crushed. I feel fortunate,” Hornug said. Hornug said she’s been asked if she’s afraid of living under the trees and if she plans to move from the home where she and her family have lived for six months. “That’s part of living here; it’s not a reason to move,” Hornug said. “You live up here and you accept the dangers to live here.” Hornug said she and her husband moved to the Loomis Basin four years ago from the Central Valley. “We moved up here for the area, the kids, we just loved it up here, and we still do,” Hornug said. Even though the tree and its tentacles of branches covered the rural home’s front yard, it didn’t knock down any power lines and the power never went out. “I told you we’re lucky,” Hornug said. According to The Weather Channel website, from March 13 through March 26, 5.25 inches of rain fell in Loomis, including .99 inches last Thursday, March 24.