‘A miracle’: Vernon, B.C. girl rescues herself, younger sister from falling tree

Click to play video: 'Falling tree narrowly misses two children in Vernon'
Falling tree narrowly misses two children in Vernon
One Okanagan family is feeling extremely lucky in the wake of that windstorm. Their two young daughters were in the backyard playing when a large Douglas Fir tree came crashing down just feet from where the girls were standing. As Klaudia Van Emmerik reports, the older sister jumped into action to get herself and her younger sibling out of harm's way – Feb 26, 2024

On Sunday afternoon, eight-year-old Adelie Kovacs was playing in the backyard of her Vernon, B.C., home.

The little girl said she was playing with her crystals when suddenly she heard a strange noise.

“I heard this cracking sound,” Adelie said “The dirt was coming up. Like, say you have a really big shovel and you dig it up and there’s these big clumps of dirt, that’s what I saw.”

It was moments later when a large tree came crashing down, just mere feet from Adelie and her three-year-old sister, who had just come outside to play.

Adelie, being the protective sister, ran over to her sister and swooped her up to get them both out of harm’s way.

“I grabbed her and pushed her. I pushed her underneath so she doesn’t get hurt because she’s younger than me,” Adelie told Global News.

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“I just had instincts to pick up my sister but after that I was shivering, I had a headache, I was so freaked out.”

Their mom, Adrienne, was inside at the time.  Their dad, Matt, had just come home from the store.

“My husband had just come home from the grocery store and he said to me, ‘Adrienne, I think we need to get the girls to come inside. It’s really windy out there and a branch might come down,'” Adrienne Kovacs said.

It was moments later that the entire tree came down.

“I just heard the loudest thud ever, and then screaming,” Kovacs said. “So I run outside.”

The panic quickly turned to relief when Kovacs saw the girls were unharmed.

“We all just stood out here and hugged and sat in shock,” she said. “We’re feeling so lucky that nobody was hurt and thankful that Adelie was there to look after her sister at that moment.”

Kovacs called her first-born child a little hero.

“It is amazing because in a moment like that you’re not acting out of…you’re not thinking things through, you’re just being instinctual and for her to be, you know, not spooked and to just prioritize grabbing her sister and getting her out of the way…it warms my heart so much,” Kovacs said.

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“I absolutely think she’s a little hero.”

The tree did brush against the house but it doesn’t appear to have damaged the structure.

“It’s just a miracle that everyone is safe and there’s not even a dollar of damage done,” said Kovacs.

The family is shocked by the terrifying incident given they had an arborist examine their trees about a year and a half ago.

“Because we do have kids playing in our yard, so we had this one worked on they, you know, gave it a clean bill of health,” Kovacs said.  “It had no signs of any kind of disease or any any kind of ware going on for it.”

Winds were very strong at the time the tree came crashing down, gusting near 70 km/h in the region.

“I actually spent most of my night last night waking up in moments thinking what if they had just been in that other corner of the yard and could they have known because it came down so fast,” Kovacs said.

“So yes, it absolutely is running through my mind about that different outcome.”

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