SUDBURY (CBS) – After a large tree fell on her and pinned her to the ground, Paula Mackenzi says: “I’m glad I’m alive.”
Mackenzi, 56, a Sudbury mother, had been using a snowblower to clear her driveway during Thursday’s storm when a large tree cracked and fell on top of her, causing serious injuries.
“I’m alive, considering the size of that tree, I’m alive,” she said quietly from her hospital room during a telephone interview with WBZ-TV, while recounting a horrific scene witnessed by her teenage son and neighbors.
She said the moments when the tree pinned her are a blur.
She had gone outside and grabbed her snowblower, and began clearing some snow with her teenage son nearby.
He put the dog back inside and then came back out.
Mackenzi said she never heard the tree cracking because of the loud sound of the snowblower.
“I just remember, like, in a split second, I saw these branches coming toward me and I just put both of my arms up and I don’t remember anything after that,” she said.
One neighbor heard the crack, and then “the big sound and then they heard screaming,” Mackenzi said, recalling what her neighbor later told her.
Neighbors rushed to help, grabbing Mackenzi’s jacket and pulling her out from underneath the tree.
“I was pinned under the tree, the branch or something… of course my son was standing there, horrified, wondering if I was dead or alive,” she said.
She recalled paramedics putting her into an ambulance and then being rushed into a Boston hospital “but everything is kind of a blank.”
She underwent surgery for her injuries, which include a broken right arm that now has a steel plate with six screws, lacerations to her arms and forehead, exposed muscles and nerves, a fractured sinus, a chipped tooth and bruises.
She said she had been worried about the tree outside her home coming down one day.
“I always was very worried that it would fall because the dual trunk ones can split,” she said.
Mackenzi said she had previously had two bad experiences with trees falling nearby.
At 13, while living in Framingham, a large Oak tree fell onto a bed in a bedroom, moments after she had gotten up from the bed to walk down the hallway.
Nearly three years ago, she said another Oak tree landed on her porch in Sudbury.
“And then this one got me,” she said.
She said she knows she’ll heal physically, but right now she is struggling mentally to understand what happened. More than anything, she is worried about her 17-year-old son, who witnessed the devastating accident.
“He witnessed me being pinned by the branches and he witnessed the neighbors pulling me out,” she said.
A graduate of Northeastern University, Mackenzi said she works for a Framingham attorney.
When she woke up after having surgery in the hospital, she said she kept thinking of one thing: miraculously, she had survived.
“I was alive, I was alive and I remember them trying to tell me what my injuries were and everything,” she cried. “I was just really terrified but I kept thinking that I was alive.”