Branford Mom Forced Into Survival Mode To Protect Children During Thursday's Storm

Woman escapes a car surrounded by fallen trees and carries her two children through wooded area to find safety.

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Trapped in Thursday’s storm, Branford’s Maria Adinolfi was forced into an unthinkable position. With trees falling in front and behind her minivan, she had nowhere to go.

Adinolfi said she received a tornado alert on her phone. Worried, she picked up her children from daycare early. With her three-year-old son Gaetano and one-year-old daughter Pamina in the minivan, they drove toward their home.

Approaching their neighborhood, the skies darkened and wind tore through the area. Witnessing trees bending and breaking, Maria’s husband called and urged her to get home.

Maria said she was driving quickly but as the storm worsened, panic began.

“I heard trees falling and I was screaming. I was crying,” she said.

The Adinolfi family

As the conversation continued between her and her husband, that’s when the trees trapped her car. After one fell directly in front of her on Meadow Wood Road, she said she looked in her rearview mirror and saw another tree fall about 20 yards behind her.

“All I was thinking of was my poor little babies,” Adinolfi said.

With her car surrounded by broken trees, Adinolfi continued talking with her husband who said he felt helpless, not being able to get to his family.

“She was panicking. I was panicking,” Vin Adinolfi said. “Finally I said just do what you have to do to get yourself and the kids somewhere safe.”

Courageously, Maria scooped up her children.

“I said 'you have to hold on as tight as you can to mommy,'” Maria said.

With Gaetano and Pamina in arms, Maria ran through a wooded area to a nearby house for safety.

“I was just banging on the door thinking, just please be home. Please be home,” she said.

Answering the door was Antoinette Denton, a caregiver for 95-year-old Peggy Church, who took the Adinolfi family inside.

Relieved, Vin said he’s proud of his wife and knew she could pull this off.

“You know when it comes to the kids, nothing can stop her,” he said.

For Maria, it’s an experience she’ll never forget.

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