Grant Park family unscathed after tree falls on minivan

Elizabeth O'Brien hugs her daughter Violet Reynolds O'Brien (right) after their minivan was crushed Friday morning by a falling tree. The entire family walked away unscathed.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

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Elizabeth O'Brien hugs her daughter Violet Reynolds O'Brien (right) after their minivan was crushed Friday morning by a falling tree. The entire family walked away unscathed.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

A summer day trip was put on hold Friday morning after a tree came crashing down on a Grant Park family’s minivan.

Everyone inside was able to climb out of the crushed van without injury, but the vehicle was totaled, Elizabeth O’Brien said. The mother was moved to tears thinking about how close she came to a very different outcome.

“It could have been really bad,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the scene. “It’s just a car.”

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A firefighter cuts away a large tree limb that fell on the O'Brien family's minivan on Cherokee Street in Grant Park.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

A firefighter cuts away a large tree limb that fell on the O'Brien family's minivan on Cherokee Street in Grant Park.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

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A firefighter cuts away a large tree limb that fell on the O'Brien family's minivan on Cherokee Street in Grant Park.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

O’Brien said she, her husband and their three teenage children were headed to Columbus to go whitewater rafting. They had just picked up their 12-year-old son’s friend and were driving on Cherokee Street when the tree came down on top of them.

“All of a sudden, limbs started falling as we were driving down Cherokee, I mean only going 20, 25 mph,” she said. “My husband kept driving — thank God he was driving — and just stopped when everything just stopped falling on us, kind of tried to pull out of it.”

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No one was injured when the tree fell Friday morning. The family of five and a 12-year-old friend were all headed to Columbus to go whitewater rafting.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

No one was injured when the tree fell Friday morning. The family of five and a 12-year-old friend were all headed to Columbus to go whitewater rafting.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

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No one was injured when the tree fell Friday morning. The family of five and a 12-year-old friend were all headed to Columbus to go whitewater rafting.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Somehow, everyone managed to walk away. The largest limb came down on the back of the minivan, crushing its roof. O’Brien said it was scary, but she was mostly grateful that everyone was OK.

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She said she could feel with a squish just how waterlogged the fallen tree was. Since June 1, Atlanta has recorded 11.5 inches of rainfall, nearly 4 inches above average for this time of year. With the recent rain, and in a neighborhood known for its canopy of mature trees, O’Brien said maintenance is important. The family is having a tree removed in their yard next month.

“These big old oak trees, we love them,” she said. “But when they get sick, you’ve got to cut them down, or take care of them.”

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Elizabeth O'Brien said she was shocked and scared but mostly grateful that no one was hurt.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Elizabeth O'Brien said she was shocked and scared but mostly grateful that no one was hurt.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

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Elizabeth O'Brien said she was shocked and scared but mostly grateful that no one was hurt.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM