• Man rescues trapped sister, nephew after massive tree splits house in two

    By: Gina Esposito


    ALBEMARLE, N.C. - An Albemarle family was trapped inside their home after a massive tree fell and literally split their house in two.

    [MICHAEL'S AFTERMATH: Schools closed, thousands without power across Carolinas]

    Channel 9 reporter Gina Esposito spoke to the family about the terrifying rescue. They said they’re blessed and thankful that everyone was OK after the huge tree crashed down on the home during Tropical Storm Michael.

    The tree landed in the living room when the ceiling collapsed, trapping two people inside.

    "The ceiling came down on me and pushed me over to my left and was laying on top of my face,” said Diane Vanhoy, who was watching TV with her mother and grandson. “My whole right side was pinned all under that.”


    Ronnie Lee Russell and his wife, who live next door, heard the crash and rushed over to help. Russell is the brother of the trapped homeowner.

    Russell said he went through the front door and saw that the ceiling had collapsed on his 18-year-old nephew. He pulled him out of a chair and then out of the home to safety.

    "I come in here, my sister was sitting in this chair, and I got her out because the ceiling was sitting on top of her,” Russell said.

    [POWERFUL IMAGES: Catastrophic damage caused by Michael across Southeast]

    He then told Channel 9 he ran to the back of the house and kicked open the door to get to his sister, who was also trapped.

    "The ceiling kept popping down as he was trying to get me out,” Vanhoy said. “I couldn't move my myself. The ceiling kept popping and I just wasn't sure that I was going to make it out."

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    Russell’s wife, Channa Trull, said the entire situation was terrifying.

    [Hurricane Michael: How to help]

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    “It was rough,” she told Esposito. “It scared me. Hadn’t seen anything like that.”

    Russell’s 87-year-old mother was standing in the front door at the time and was not trapped.

    All three were taken to the hospital and were treated for bumps and bruises.

    "When I came home from the hospital last night, I see it,” Vanhoy said. “It just broke me up all over again. I'm just thankful we got out, everybody did."

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