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9-year-old dies in Whidbey Island storm

Tue., Dec. 27, 2011, midnight

Branch falls onto SUV with five people inside

CLINTON, Wash. – A Christmas Day windstorm cut power to thousands around the region and snapped a large tree branch that fell and killed a 9-year-old Whidbey Island girl.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary said the branch that fell onto a Ford Explorer just before 1 p.m. Sunday was estimated to be a foot in diameter and at least 15 feet long.

Leary told the Seattle Times the accident could not have been avoided.

CPR was tried, but Tobiah Leonard died at the scene.

Four other people in the truck – a woman who was driving, a man in the front passenger seat, and 18-year-old and 12-year-old girls – were taken to Whidbey General Hospital with what initially were believed to be minor injuries. However, the man later was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for neck and back injuries.

The five people were believed to be family members, but Leary said he couldn’t confirm that. They were on their way from Langley to a Christmas gathering in the south part of the island when the accident happened near Cultus Bay.

Some 37,000 customers across the region lost power during the day, many for hours, as winds gusting at more than 45 mph blew down tree limbs and power lines.

Strong winds knocked a 40-year-old kite-surfer into Lake Washington on Sunday morning, the Coast Guard reported.

Petty Officer Michelle Mosley said the man had left from Magnuson Park and was about three-fourths of the way to Kirkland when he fell into the chilly lake.

He was rescued by a boater and was not injured.


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