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Pair relieved to be alive after tree falls on van Tuesday afternoon

They’re just glad to still be alive. Darby McGeorge, a 43-year-old Nathalie father, is so relieved neither he nor his 15-year-old daughter, Payton, were seriously injured when a large pine tree fell across the front end of their burgundy van crushing it Tuesday afternoon.

The freak accident occurred on L. P. Bailey Memorial Highway, four-tenths of a mile north of Route 610 in Halifax after several days of heavy rains loosened the ground uprooting the pine tree that fell across the highway.

 “It was the scariest moment of our life,” McGeorge said. “If it had landed on the cab, the outcome would have been much different due to the weight of the tree.”  

McGeorge, who lives on L. P. Bailey Memorial Highway only three miles from the scene of the accident, said he was almost home after picking up his daughter from school and taking her to Walmart to purchase a new cell phone for her birthday.

That’s when he saw the tree begin to move out of the corner of his eye.

“I had just micro seconds to decide what I was going to do to avoid the tree from crushing the cab,” McGeorge said.

 He made the split-second decision to slam on brakes and turn right so if the tree landed on the cab, it would strike his side and not his daughter’s. 

McGeorge said the van slid 20 feet on the wet pavement until the tree fell on it stopping it in its tracks.

On impact the rear of the van lifted off the ground and came back down again as he and his daughter were thrown forward.

“The van was still moving at around 40 to 45 miles per hour when the tree crashed down onto the van, and it was like hitting a brick wall,” McGeorge recalled.

When the van made its sudden stop, McGeorge said his daughter immediately called 911 on her newly purchased cell phone, and the pair sat and waited for paramedics to arrive. 

He said he was worried because he didn’t know if anything else would fall.

“I was thanking God at that moment,” McGeorge said.  

Another three feet, and it would have been sitting on top of us crushing the entire cab.”

A few minutes later paramedics arrived on the scene and helped McGeorge and his daughter out of the van.

The tree had crushed the front of the car so bad that paramedics were unable to close the passenger side door after they opened it, McGeorge said.

McGeorge said his daughter was petrified and said to him, “Daddy this is like something off of ‘Final Destination.”’

Luckily, McGeorge said no one else was on the road when the freak accident occurred.

The father and daughter sustained minor injuries during the wreck and were transported to Halifax Regional Hospital where they were treated and released.

McGeorge said the impact of the accident caused him to hurt his hip and re-injure an ankle he recently had an operation on, while his daughter sustained seat belt burns on her chest and shoulder.

“The doctor said no broken bones but possible torn ligaments,” he added. 

The doctor also took Payton out of school for a few days until she gets over the soreness from the accident.

Wednesday morning McGeorge said he and his daughter were suffering whiplash and experiencing pain in places they weren’t having pain on Tuesday.

“We are very thankful to be here this morning. We’re still freaked out. It was a freak accident.  It’s something you don’t see everyday,” McGeorge said. “ I have never experienced anything like this ever.”

The van, however, was not as fortunate as McGeorge and his daughter, according to an accident report filed by investigating State Trooper D. H. Hess.

The 1995 Mercury Villager sustained $1,500 and is beyond repair, according to McGeorge who said the van was his family’s only means of transportation.

At this point, he doesn’t know what he is going to do about replacing the van.

Insurance will not be enough to cover the cost of another vehicle, he said.

For McGeorge one thing is for certain, a higher power was with him and his daughter Tuesday afternoon.

“We had angels with us,” he said.