Stories of near misses from Friday’s deadly storms

A tree fell through a home in Jenison on Friday, July 7, 2017.

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Jenison couple is grateful their 16-year-old daughter is OK after getting hit and trapped by a branch that came crashing into her room during the storm.

The insulation and debris that’s now scattered about Rachel Tanner’s room shows the aftermath of a traumatizing night.

“I just thought I was going to die. I was just so terrified that the tree came down,” Rachel Tanner told 24 Hour News 8.

Rachel Tanner woke up to the noise of the storm around 3 a.m. She usually sleep elsewhere in the house during bad storms because an old, massive oak that sits by her window has always been a concern to her parents.

“I just had a feeling like the tree was going to come down. I just thought to myself I just needed to get out. That’s when the tree came down and pushed me back,” she recalled.

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The branch forced its way straight down through her ceiling, struck Rachel Tanner and then rested against her bedroom door — making it impossible for her to get out of her room.

As she screamed for her mom and dad on the other side of the door, her dad began trying to force his was into the room.

“The door [opened] just wide enough to get her out. Then we saw the rest of the damage and at that time she said ‘I don’t feel good, I think I hit my head,’” Mark Tanner explained.

They took Rachel Tanner to the emergency room. She has a chipped tooth, swollen forehead and scratches on her arm.

All injuries are minor compared to the fear of what could have happened.

“We feel fortunate and blessed because this is just where I live. This is my home, my family,” Mark Tanner said as he motioned to his daughter and wife. “To look at this and to walk away from it is a blessing, that’s all I can say.”


A tree also fell through the roof a house in Kentwood, landing just feet away from a woman.

It happened around 3 a.m. and 24 Hour News 8 spoke with the woman’s husband. He said his wife was still a little shook up, but he is just happy this ended the way it did.

“My wife is OK. It could have been a lot different. If the tree would have gone a foot, two feet instead of the way it did, it could have been a whole different story,” Bob Gorkowski said.


Some people were inside tents and campers at campgrounds along the lake shore when the high-speed winds, lightning and pounding rain moved in.

People camping at Grand Haven State Park said they felt their campers lifting off the ground and shaking during the storm.

“I looked at the channel and I thought OK Mother Nature — don’t mess with her,” said Jeanne Gillespie, who was staying at the park when the storms moved through. “I feel bad for the people in tents, I don’t know what they did. I didn’t feel safe in my camper.”

A camping trailer at Camper’s Paradise in Grand Haven that was damaged in the July 7, 2017 storm.

Witnesses said a man and his dog safely escaped a trailer crushed by a tree at Campers Paradise in Grand Haven.

As of Friday afternoon, there were reports of damages to awnings and tents, but no injuries at Grand Haven State Park.