First reported 7/24/2011 4:01 p.m.
Nobody was seriously injured Sunday afternoon when a large limb fell from a hackberry tree onto four people and a dog in front of a home at 78 Nuttall Road in Riverside.
However, two of the victims, a 44-year-old woman and a 2-year-old girl were taken to Loyola University Medical Center, where they were treated for minor head injuries.
“I think I’m still in absolute shock,” said Courtney Zavorski, the mother of the 2-year-old twin girls. “Who expects to have a tree fall on your lawn out in the suburbs?”
Zavorski, her husband, Joe, and her daughters, Brooke and Paige, had just come home about 1:20 p.m. to find that a giant limb from the huge hackberry tree had fallen southward across their driveway and into another tree, cleaving it in two.
Riverside fire and public works personnel had been called to the scene around noon when the limb came crashing down and had put yellow caution tape around the scene to keep people out.
The Zavorskis were cutting across the front lawn to the side door when their neighbor’s small dog came running over toward them. The neighbor followed, and all of them were standing there when the tree’s remaining large limb fell northward toward the group. It struck everybody but Joe Zavorski, who was standing several feel away.
“You could hear that eerie creaking of the branch starting to make its way down,” he said.
“It was a perfect storm. Everybody was underneath it. All of them got engulfed by the tree.”
Courtney Zavorski grabbed Brooke, shielding her from the limb. Courtney sustained a small abrasion to her face while Brooke got a scratch on her arm. Neither was seriously injured and both were treated at the scene.
The Zavorskis’ 44-year-old neighbor grabbed Paige and hauled her away as the limb fell on them. Both sustained head injuries, though neither was knocked unconscious.
Both were taken to the hospital for treatment and were released a few hours later. The neighbor’s dog also suffered an injury and was taken to the VCA Hospital in Berwyn. The Riverside Fire Department later reported that the dog’s injuries were not life-threatening.
Luckily, the main trunk of the limb, which was at least a foot in diameter, missed everybody.
“We really have to thank her,” said Courtney Zavorski of her neighbor’s quick action in grabbing one of the twins. “She really saved Paige.”
Attempts to reach the neighbor were unsuccessful.
“I think anything Riverside can do [to recognize] her, she’s certainly entitled to that,” added Joe Zavorski.
It was the second tree near the Zavorskis’ home to suffer damage related to all of the stormy weather this summer. Just a few weeks earlier, a large limb from an old ash tree crashed to the ground in front of the home.
The hackberry tree looked to have some structural issues of its own. After the limbs cracked off, it appeared that a portion of the main trunk was hollow.
It is not certain just who the tree, which is not located on the parkway, belongs to. It could belong to the Zavorskis, a neighbor or the village. Village Manager Peter Scalera said Monday that the village is trying to determine ownership at this point.