Parents, 8 others injured by tree falling at Vanderbilt

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Lauren Finley and her parents were with a group of prospective parents Monday on Vanderbilt University’s campus when a tree came tumbling down.

The 80-foot hackberry tree injured at least 10 people, including Finley’s family.

“We heard all the branches fall and we were all kind of trapped under it. Then I heard people scream and then I saw my mom laying on the ground calling for help. I saw other women and girls on the ground,” she told News 2.

Her mother was hit in the back. She broke her nose and needed stitches as well as staples in her head.

Finley’s father suffered several broken ribs and remains in the hospital.

“I think they are just in a lot of pain, but they will be okay,” she said.

Vanderbilt University staff told News 2 what happened was very unusual.

“In fact, without a storm or the immediate aftermath of the storm, we rarely see trees fall over like this. Usually there are high winds, but this was a relatively calm day,” said Mark Petty, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Plant Operations.

Petty told News 2 he doesn’t know why the tree fell. It was examined a few months ago and experts said it was healthy.

Finley was planning to return home to Philadelphia on Tuesday but now she isn’t sure how long she’ll stay in Nashville.

“I saw people who really couldn’t move at all. But their heads are okay and they’re conscious and no one died, so I am just really glad everyone is fine,” said Finley.

She’s grateful it didn’t turn out a lot worse and she’s still considering attending Vanderbilt University.

As a precaution, the tree was cut down by Vanderbilt workers.

Horticulturists told News 2 hackberry trees haven’t been intentionally planted in the Nashville area in about 30 years. Their bark is very thin and the trees damage easily. They’re susceptible to rot and limb loss.

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