Durham Woman May Be Among Those Hurt in Rhode Island Storm

Connecticut residents were caught in the fray when a fierce storm ripped through a Rhode Island campground early Tuesday, injuring nearly a dozen people.

Officials said straight-line winds tore through the Burlingame State Park campground. Falling trees crushed campers and tents, sending two people to the hospital with concussions.

David Sassi, of Springfield, Massachusetts, said one was a woman from Durham who was camping with her family at the site next to his.

"The tree branch fell on her head when she was in the tent. Came out of nowhere," he said.

Sassi said he watched as paramedics cut the tree with a chainsaw before rushing the woman to the hospital. The family quickly packed up and did not return.

Eight other people were treated for minor injuries at the campground, including two children.

Local officials called the storm unsual.

"Summer thunderstorms are quite prevalent; however, they’re usually not severe. We may have a severe storm once every three years. This was quite severe this morning," said Kevin Gallup, emergency manager of Charlestown, Rhode Island, where the campground is located.

Gallup called it a short-duration, high-impact storm. Fifty large trees fell throughout Charlestown, knocking out power to 3,500 people, according to Gallup.

Crews worked all day to pick up debris as families tried to dry out all their clothes on air mattresses and clean up the mess the storm left around their campsite.

"Our pop-up was flipped upside down and flew over the trees. Everything was everywhere, glass (was) breaking," said Ellington resident Stacey Page.

Page's father was sleeping in a tent outside her camper. Fifteen minutes after he sought shelter in his brother’s camper, a large tree came crashing down, hovering inches above his tent.

"I think my angels were looking out for me today," said James Kology, of Bristol.

Not everyone waited for the storm to pass. Several people ran to their cars and left the campground as the storm raged.

"Limbs started falling, smashing every other car in between us," said Steven Fitzgerald of Hinsdale, Massachusetts.

Rhode Island State Parks & Recreation Chief Bob Paquette said he did not expect power to be fully restored until midnight.

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