April 30, 2013

Rain, wind cause park accident

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A freak accident that injured two campers and demolished part of an RV camper is being credited to recent rainfall and wind.

Gill Lawson, with the Kentucky Department of Parks and Recreation, said the combination of wind and rain caused the tree in Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park to uproot.

“We sent an arborist to examine the area and based on his evaluation, the wet ground and the wind caused the tree to fall,” Lawson said. “Sometimes a tree will uproot if the ground is wet enough.”

Recent rainfall provided that wetness, and the wind whipping through the 40-foot trees attributed to the situation.

Emergency personnel were called to Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park around 4 p.m. on Friday, April 19 after the tree fell across a camper and pinned two persons inside. The owner of the camper, who did not wish to disclose his name, said he and a male friend were sitting on one side of the camper, talking to his wife and a female friend who were seated on the couch. The couch and a dinette set were located in the pull-out section of the camper.

The fallen tree smashed the pull-out section, trapping the two women underneath the crashed in roof. Both women were taken for medical treatment, with one being transferred to the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

Lawson said it is departmental policy not to release the names of the “guests” at the state parks and could not give any information on the condition of the injured persons.

However, he said the campers at the London camping area were offered an opportunity to either move to another camp site in the park or move to another park.

“A few people moved, just for that evening,” Lawson said.

Lawson could not confirm whether this is the first such incident in which a falling tree damaged campers’ property or individuals.

 “We checked the camping area and the trees. Safety is a number one priority for us and we do check all the trees before camping season begins each year and throughout the season,” he added. “And we ask if the campers see something they think is not safe, that they report it to the park staff.”