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Church members head back to see van they were in when tree came crashing down

Church cleans up after storm knocks tree onto van
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 22:26:06-04

Volunteers brought chainsaws and rakes and were ready for clean up on Thursday, after a storm the night before knocked large oak tree onto a van with people inside.

Crews took three people to the hospital Wednesday after the accident at the church's parking lot off N. Florida Avenue.

The three were back at the church the next day watching as volunteers cleared the area covered with branches, including the mini van.

" I don't even know if I can put into words what I felt to see it ," said Jennifer Chaparro, who was standing outside of the van helping people get out when the tree fell, pinning her to the ground.

"I wasn't even worried about the car," she said," "It hadn't hit me on what happened, it was just that my husband was in the car, my friend was in the car and I needed to get them out."

Marisol Ortega was sitting in the back seat where a large branch ripped through the roof, hitting her shoulder.

She and Chaparro held back tears as they looked inside the van just hours after they got out of the hospital and still wearing the bracelets.

An arborist was called to clear the biggest portion of the tree from the lot.

Juan Romero, the church's pastor, says insurance won't cover the damages for the van or side structure that was also slightly damaged.

Despite that, he's noticed more unity among church members and is even considering changing his upcoming sermon.

"I'm holding back a lot of emotion," he said.

He says anyone who wants to help can call him at (347) 546-9183.