Lifestyle & Human Interest

'There's a Tree on My Baby!': Family Calls Toddler's Survival a 'Miracle' After Huge Tree Crushes Home


California has been hit with extreme weather this week, but few experienced it quite the way one family in the town of Boulder Creek did.

This week, the community in the Santa Cruz Mountains saw winds of 40 miles per hour. Tuesday night, those winds toppled a huge tree on Bobcat Lane and it crashed through the Smith family home.

Mom Catherine Smith soon realized something was wrong.

“Even when I went into the bedroom I didn’t realize that the ceiling had collapsed,” Catherine said, according to KNTV. “And then I realized that I couldn’t hear Milo. That’s when it kind of really sunk in that we needed to find him.”

Ceiling tiles were down, there were branches everywhere, and there was a shattered playpen. A large branch, 10 inches in diameter, had fallen directly through the roof and onto her toddler, Milo, and lodged him into the floor.

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“My baby!” she started screaming, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “There’s a tree on my baby!”

Pat McCue, a neighbor who was packing up and getting ready to leave, heard the desperate mother’s cries. The 74-year-old retiree found her and asked what was going on.

“Explain to me what you’re talking about,” he said.

“My baby is pinned to the floor!” Catherine said.

It’s a sight that still haunts McCue, as it will the family for years to come.

“It almost looked like the tree had punched the baby through the floor,” McCue said, emotional.

Understandably, McCue wanted to do whatever he could to help the poor toddler and almost got his chainsaw to start cutting away the tree. A paramedic neighbor, Patrick Kelly, jumped in and cautioned him not to, as he could make the situation exponentially worse.

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“We have to stabilize this thing,” Kelly said, and then began directing people to ready the scene for emergency responders, who were on their way.

While they waited for rescue, dad Zachary Smith wiggled as close to his son as possible and wrapped his arms around him, doing everything he could to comfort him. At one point, the boy went quiet.

“Keep crying,” Zachary urged. “Don’t go to sleep.”

“Come on,” McCue joined in. “Come on baby, cry. I thought he was dying.

“I just wanted him not to be alone in that moment –- if that was the moment. No matter what happens, I’ll be here.”

The boy was eventually freed and taken to a nearby hospital before being transferred to Santa Clara Valley Medical center. His pelvis and both legs were broken and he needed immediate surgery — but somehow, despite all the trauma he’d endured, his internal organs turned out to be uninjured.

Milo was declared stable Wednesday morning. He has lots of surgery, healing, and therapy in his future — but he’s alive, something no one was sure about after the events of Tuesday night.

“He’s the luckiest unlucky kid in the entire world at this point,” Zachary told KNTV. “For the chances of him to be struck by the tree like that, but to be in that particular position and particular way, it was, yeah … a miracle.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking