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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wind snaps limbs and wires, killing 1 and hurting others at crowded Tri-City events

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 22, 2018

By Cameron Probert Tri-City Herald

RICHLAND – Wind wreaked havoc at two festivals in the Tri-Cities on Saturday, killing a woman and sending at least two others to the hospital and hurting several others.

Steady 18-mph wind and gusts of up to 25 mph knocked down a tree limb at the Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Faire and toppled a concrete post at the annual Christ the King Sausage Fest.

In Columbia Park, Stephanie L. Judd, 37, of Benton City, was sitting on a bench with her son when the branch came down on them at about 2:40 p.m., said Chief Deputy Coroner Roy McLean.

The branch hit and killed her.

Her husband was also at the event.

Three to five people were underneath the branch when it came down, and another 20 to 30 people were in the area, Officer Keith Noble said. She was the only one hurt by the branch.

Several other people were reported pinned underneath the branch, including at least one child.

Witnesses said the limb collapsed over an open area in the park in Kennewick.

The annual festival draws hundreds from across the region to enjoy magic, puppets, music, dancing, jousting, sword fighting, games and food. While the area around the collapse was closed, the rest of the event remained open until 5 p.m.

There are no reports of it being closed on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, a line anchoring the iconic parachute outside of Christ the King School in Richland snapped. The wind turned the parachute into a sail, cracking the concrete light post in the center of the festival, according to a post on the festival’s Facebook page.

The post hit a man and a girl, who were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center across the street. They were treated and released.

“We understand their injuries are not severe, and we are praying as a community for their speedy recovery,” said the Facebook post.

The festival is the third largest event in the Tri-Cities, drawing thousands of people each year.

Officials said they cleaned up the broken post and continued the event, which features food booths, music, games and entertainment.

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