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No criminal charges in woman's death under fallen tree

Posted May 19, 2010

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— No one will be held criminally responsible for the death of a woman Sunday when a tree fell into the Wake County house where she was sleeping.

Phyllis Stephens, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said Wednesday afternoon that District Attorney Colon Willoughby would not file charges against the owner of the home, at 5332 Rock Quarry Road.

Sabrina Allen, 32, a visitor at the home was sleeping when the tree fell shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday. She died instantly.

A tree-removal specialist said Monday that it is possible that the double-trunk oak tree, which was about 4 feet in diameter, collected water and rotted after part of the tree fell this past winter.

A powerful thunderstorm was also moving through the area at the time that authorities believe could have also caused the tree to fall.


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  • Hans May 20, 2010

    Time to ban all trees within 100' of houses.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 20, 2010

    Exactly, Slip Kid. Since this tree was previously damaged by another storm, the police were probably looking into whether the owner of the tree (neighbor) could be held liable.

    Is there really anything wrong with holding people responsible in this manner? If your mother's neighbor knew a tree was dangerous and her neighbor sat on his porch drinking a beer while it crushed her house and killed her...would you want the cops to just let it slide? Is he not responsible in any way?

  • wayneboyd May 20, 2010

    I have always wanted to ask this question.
    In the forests you seldom see a hardwwod tree that it's heart has rotted away.
    Could it just be a possibility that since trees are anchored to one spot and cannot search for food that the Creator allowed trees to grow their own? And every fall when we rake it's leaves up and either burn them or send them to the landfil, are we not unwittingly depriving the tree of nourishment.I've observed in storms that trees are stripped of poorly formed or dead branches and twigs that fall beneath it and when the wind blows it's leaves are trapped in these tangled branches thus trapping them and not allowing them to get away. As the trees life sustance disappears it begins to die from the inside out, and everytime we have storms and they show on tv the damage done to trees, they are always in someones yard, and always are hollow and black in the center.
    Don't know just curious.

  • gingerlynn May 20, 2010

    Hans, Unless of course you are here illegally, then they won't do anything about it.

    However, there could be a civil suit from the family of the victim if there is reason to believe the owners were negligent in not removing a dead tree.

  • Slip Kid May 20, 2010

    A property owner is liable for damages when a tree is a 'known danger' of falling. Insurance companies can only sue your a tree owner for damages IF the tree was noticibly at risk and the owner did nothing to relieve it. Otherwise, it is an 'act of God (nature)' and the owner cannot be found liable.

    So, the decision by the DA was that it would be difficult to prove that a recently damaged tree was an immediate danger. Regardless, it is a sad turn of events, prayers for the family and friends.

  • oftenbad May 20, 2010

    Better yet, I saw a bird fly into a window. I want the window and building charged with animal cruelty. What business did the building have doing that to God's creature. I'm gonna call 5 On your Side now!

  • oftenbad May 20, 2010

    Who really needs to be held accountable is WRAL web editor and the reporter for wasting space and time to A) Report such an article and B) To post it on the WRAL website. Seriously is Mother Nature the defendant?

  • OneLove May 20, 2010

    So, they actually considered filing criminal charges? for a fallen tree? And what charge would that be? that chick in Dunn killed her baby (for the second time) in December and it took them FOUR months to decide to criminal charges. WHAT kind of society is this?

  • garnertoy May 20, 2010

    mule thats what I was thinking

  • Hans May 20, 2010

    Because we live in a police state and they will not stop until anyone can be convicted of a crime for stepping outside their home.