‘Shocked, scared, grateful:’ Family escapes after tree crashes on van near Zoo Atlanta

ATLANTA — A family heading for a rafting trip escaped with their lives after a tree crashed on top of their minivan.

The crash happened around 8:15 a.m. on Cherokee Avenue near Zoo Atlanta.

Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins talked to the family, who were on their way to go whitewater rafting.

Elizabeth O’Brien said she, her husband, their three children and her son’s best friend were heading to Columbus when the massive tree limb crashed down on them. O’Brien said they are lucky to be alive. Amazingly, no one was injured.

“Shocked, scared, grateful,” O’Brien said. “It could have been really bad. It’s just a car.”

Crews had to bring in a small crane to lift the tree from the van.

“I didn’t know what was happening but as you saw the leaves falling, you thought, ‘uh oh’, the whole tree is coming with it,” O’Brien said.


The O’Brien family lives in Grant Park, where giant oaks line the neighborhood. O’Brien says that their terrifying experience on Friday has them ready to remove one of their own trees that is dying.

“When they get sick, you got to cut them down or take care of them,” she said. “We have arborists coming next month and it just gets me a little scared thinking about, with all this water, you could feel the branches that fell, the water in them.”

The family said a concrete barrier helped save them as it took the brunt of the force of the falling tree.

The area was shut down for several hours but it has since reopened.

It’s unclear what caused the tree to fall, but its likely that it was saturated from all the recent rainfall.

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