COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia family says they’re lucky to be alive after high winds caused a tree to come crashing through their kitchen and living room early Thursday morning.
The Columbia Fire Department said the call came in around 8 a.m. for a tree on a house at 5104 Randall Avenue in Columbia. Upon arrival, the fire department found one person trapped inside the home with an apparent leg injury. He was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Keito Jordon lives next door to the home and was on his back patio drinking coffee and saying a prayer when he said he witnessed the tree fall onto the house.
“It sounded like a bomb went off,” he said. “But I told myself to get my shoes on, grab my tools and go see if I can help them.”
After grabbing his ladder and crowbar, he jumped over his fence into his neighbor’s yard.
“I started screaming to see if anyone was alive and could hear me,” he said. “I heard voices and that’s when I know they were alive.”
He placed the ladder next to a bedroom window and broke the glass, enabling him to get a woman and child who were unharmed out of the house.
“I was able to get into the house and found the man who was in bed and it looked like the tree just grazed him enough to break his leg,” Jordon said.
Hector Benthall lives in the home with his daughter and wife, along with his step-father. Every morning he usually sits in his living room and watches the news, but Thursday was different. A last minute emergency had him down the street moments after the tree hit his house.
“I was down at the end of the block and my wife called me all frantic,” he said. “I’m not happy about the matter I had to tend to, but had I been sitting in that living room I would be dead.”
Benthall said most of the items inside the house can be replaced, but he’s particularly concerned about his grandmother’s and father’s urn.
“They were sitting on a shelf in the kitchen and I don’t see it, it’s destroyed,” he said. ““My grandmother had my father…my father died when I was 2 years old. I’m 36 now, she had those ashes forever. That’s the only thing she ever cared about, she never cared about valuables. She died about 5 years ago so she was cremated also so I have both of those ashes together in this house actually where that tree is on. So I don’t know if they all over the place, if the glass busted or if they still together.”
He said he visited his stepfather in the hospital and is confident he’ll make a full recovery. With his wife and daughter escaping unharmed with the help of Jordon, Benthall said he will forever be grateful.
“Oh I’m very thankful like, I’m very thankful for this guy, this guy and me always talk, we always have a talk when we see each other, we speaking, he always comes over and gives his words of advice, words encouragement, he’s a godly man, in good spirit, I’m just very thankful he was here this morning.”
Jordon said he’s a firm believer in looking after your neighbor and is glad everyone managed to get out relatively unharmed.
“Before you’re a father, you’re a man,” he said. “It’s time for us all to be prepared or be ready to act and look out for our community and the need and to do that you have to be in a selfless mindset.”
Benthall said he and his family have a safe place to stay until the tree is removed from the house. Then, he’ll weigh his options on what to do next.
“We’ll figure that out, I’m just glad we’re all okay,” he said.