CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Firefighters said they were able to rescue 10-year-old twin brothers who were trapped in their bunk bed early Thursday morning after a large tree fell on an east Charlotte house.
The tree fell around 4:20 a.m. onto the home on Pinecrest Avenue, near Eastway Drive and Central Avenue.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they reported seeing a large tree that had toppled onto the back of the home, causing part of the roof to collapse.
It took about 10 minutes for firefighters to rescue the twin boys, who were trapped in their bunk bed in a bedroom, officials said. Firefighters had to remove the bedroom door and take apart the bunk bed to reach the brothers.
Evan Cleary, one of the boys who was trapped, told Channel 9 he’s doing OK, but he is still in shock.
Cleary said he was sleeping on the bottom bunk when the top bunk collapsed on top of him.
“It was pitch black dark when they couldn't get in, so it was scary,” Cleary said.
Cleary said he was talking to his twin brother Reeve until help arrived.
“Pretty much crying,” Cleary said. “I was probably just saying, ‘Get down here, help me to pull this thing up.’ But it was too heavy because there was a limb on it.”
The boys’ father Ted Cleary said the bedroom door was blocked by those limbs, so he had to rush to a back window to hear their voices.
“The real panic, really was when I couldn't get them to get to answer, knocking, beating on their door,” Ted Cleary said.
“They were able to quickly identify the exact location of the children,” said Battalion Chief David Farnum. “Remove a couple doors, the top of the bunk bed and in about two minutes they were able to get both kids out.”
All that's left of the bunk bed is a tiny baseball that was attached to the leg.
Farnum told Channel 9 that the impact of the tree was so strong that it pushed the top bunk onto the bottom. He said both 10-year-old boys stayed calm throughout the rescue.
The twins were taken to the hospital to be checked out as a precaution.
There were three other people inside the house -- the two parents and their daughter -- but they were able to make it out safely before firefighters arrived.
The family of five has been displaced and will be staying with neighbors, officials said.
Ted Cleary said that his boys were incredibly brave while they were trapped, but he was terrified when he realized the tree had crashed into their bedroom.
The tree crushed Ted Cleary's car before plunging into the boys' bedroom.
He said he tried to get into the room but couldn't because of all the limbs. He then went outside to try to reach them and that's when he heard them call out that they were OK.
“The best part of the whole story was hearing one of my boys, the one who was on the top bunk bed, say, ‘We're OK, we're not hurt.’ So I'm very proud of the both of them,” Ted Cleary said.
Ted Cleary told Channel 9 that the tree had fallen from a neighbor's yard, possibly due to root rot.
He said neighbors have rushed in to help his family until they figure out what's next.
“Any parent that has a close call in life, just an incredible relief when you find out that everybody turned out OK,” Ted Cleary said.
A structural engineer has been called to the scene but fire officials said it would be some time before the family would be allowed back inside the house.
The fallen tree also brought down some power lines and Duke Energy was called to make repairs.
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