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Tree Branch Crushes Minivan, Killing Mom and Daughter

Witnesses rushed to try to rescue trapped passengers

By ANNE REYNOLDS and ASHA BEH

Updated 1:02 AM EDT, Sun, Jun 28, 2009 WRC-TV/News4

A woman and a child died after a massive tree branch crushed their minivan in Chevy Chase, Md.

A massive, falling branch of a tree -- one of many affected by Friday night's storms -- crushed a Toyota minivan at a stop light late Friday evening, killing a mother and her daughter inside.

Rescuers Dodge Power Lines to Help Children

After a tree crushed a minivan, horrified drivers leapt from their cars to try and help the woman and seven children trapped inside.

Kelly M. Murray, 40, of Chevy Chase and her daughter Sloan, 7, died in the accident. Six other girls, ranging in age from 10 months to 11 years, were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Witnesses say it happened during a sudden downpour. Before anyone could react, the three-foot diameter branch snapped and landed with tons of deadly force on the van, which was stopped near the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and East-West Highway in Chevy Chase.

A few horrified drivers on the road jumped from their cars and dodged live power lines to try to help Murray and the seven children who were trapped.

"I broke out the back window," Thomas Walsh told News 4. "And there was a car seat behind the driver's seat. We yanked that out, and a little girl was trapped underneath that. We pulled her out of the car, and then the other one we got out through a sunroof. I pulled her off the roof and handed her down. But the other one, we couldn't get out. If we tried to pull on her, her sister was right on top of her."

Rescuer Gustavo Perez served in the Army for ten years, but said the scene he faced Friday was still difficult to deal with.

"She was crying and asking for help. We just tried to help her, but it was hard. It was a big tree. I felt bad, because we should be able to do better," Perez said.

Six children were pulled from the minivan, some with severe injuries. Murray and her daughter did not make it out alive.

Investigators have not released the identities of the other children or their relationship to each other. Murray is a member of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Chevy Chase.


But without proper tools and equipment, what more could you do? They did what they could with what they had, and there was much good achieved. Not much for consolation, but better to have tried than just stood and watched. May those involved find peace within themselves.