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Wind pushes tree over onto Grants Pass woman's car

Heavy winds toppled a 40-foot pine tree and sent it falling onto the hood of a Grants Pass woman's car as she drove through Douglas County late Saturday morning.

The woman, 42-year-old Kristen Daniels, survived the incident. Oregon State Police reported Daniels was driving westbound on Highway 230 near milepost 12 when the winds kicked up at about 10:50 a.m. They pushed the 40-foot pine tree — estimated to be about 10 inches in diameter — over onto her car, just missing her windshield. The impact cracked the tree. Daniels then lost control of her car, which spun across the highway's eastbound lane before crashing into another pine tree off the highway. Her airbags deployed.

Daniels was wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash. She was transported to Providence Medford Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. Her condition was not immediately available today.

The National Weather Service had instituted a high wind warning for Douglas County Saturday. Meteorologists reported gusts of up to 40 mph in certain parts of the county. They say that while those winds aren't hurricane-force, the recent summer heat has stressed trees to a high level, making them much more apt to fall during windstorms than at any other point in the year.

"This time of year is the worst time of year for those type of events," said meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies. "They're much more likely to topple. They're in the worst condition to sustain heavy winds. It was just the timing of the systems."

Because of that, OSP and Oregon Department of Transportation officials recommend motorists driving through heavily wooded areas take extra precautions, always on the lookout for falling trees and debris in the road.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.