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Close call in cemetery as tree falls on woman

by CJ Carnacchio

August 17, 2011

Oxford resident Ruth Wright poses behind the large limb that split off a hickory tree in the township cemetery and knocked her to the ground last week. Fortunately, she sustained only minor injuries. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
A longtime Oxford resident had a brush with death Aug. 10 that was definitely ironic, but fortunately, not tragic.

Ruth Wright sustained only minor injuries after a large tree limb estimated to be about 50 feet long and 15 inches in diameter struck her as it fell to the ground in the Oxford Township cemetery located on the south side of W. Burdick St.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, if I'm going to get killed, I don't want to get killed in a cemetery.' I mean you go there soon enough," she said.

Wright, who's the mother of Oxford Township Clerk Curtis Wright, was there around 12:30 p.m. planting a couple American flags at the grave of her late husband, Floyd, who passed away June 20.

"I was just kind of wandering back and forth looking at gravestones," she said. "All of the sudden I heard this big crack and the next thing I know the tree is coming down.

"I started to run and the end of the tree hit me (in the back) and knocked me down. I slid down the hill. My glasses flew off my face. I lost my shoes."

Shaken, but not seriously injured, Wright, who's lived in Oxford for 55 years, got herself together, sat in her car for a few minutes, then drove to her son's house.

The part of the tree that hit Wright ripped a large hole in her shirt and left a scrape on her back that's about 6 inches long and 1 inches wide.

"I went to the doctor and they put some antibiotics on it," she said. Her back and ribs are also "really sore."

The hickory tree from which the large limb fell exhibited some signs of rot at the point where it split, but overall, the tree appeared to be healthy. Oxford was not experiencing any high winds at the time the limb fell.

"It's very bizarre," said Curtis Wright. "It's a freaky thing."

Wright's grateful she heard the crack and had enough time to react as the limb was falling toward her.

"If I wouldn't have run, I think I would have probably been right in the middle of it when that thing came down," she said. "I was so lucky. I just thank God. He was definitely looking out for me."

Supervisor Bill Dunn noted he's planning to approach the township board with the idea that he and Wright inspect all the trees in the municipal cemeteries, tag any they believe to be a potential danger, then solicit bids for their trimming and/or removal.