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Wednesday night windstorm fells large tree at Darkwing Manor

It actually was a dark and stormy night at Darkwing Manor when the large tree fell.

Tina and Tim Reuwsaat, proprietors of the haunted attraction, were in their bedroom at about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday as strong winds passed through the Coleman Creek Road area outside Phoenix. The tree, possibly a large spruce, snapped in the center and fell, taking out an ornamental tulip magnolia before crashing to the lawn and partially resting on the Manor's Civil War-era horse-drawn hearse. 

"I thought it was our pirate scene going down, but it was much more than that," Tina said.

The wind also blew over several other scenes, including numerous graveyard tombstones, but they have since been put back up. The tree is still there, however, a mess of limbs and leaves the Darkwing hosts aren't quite sure what to do with. It's not yet known if insurance will take care of removal costs. Still, Tina Reuwsaat says, she's thankful the damage wasn't more severe and that the tree missed the house.

"We were lucky. It could have hit the house or directly hit the hearse," Tina said. "It's the best possible scenario if anything had to happen."

This isn't the first time Darkwing's eerie Civil War hearse has been linked to bad luck. Aptly nicknamed the "Cursed Hearse," a drunk driver slammed into it after the Reuwsaats first purchased it from Virginia in 2000, and the man hired to restore it had two heart attacks while it was in his possession. His wife had a stroke.

Wednesday afternoon and night wind gusts reached speeds of 25 to 40 mph in several parts across the Rogue Valley, the National Weather Service reported. Weather officials reported 25 mph gusts at the Medford airport Wednesday afternoon, with 30 to 40 mph gusts in Ashland and the nearby hills. Squaw Peak, east of Applegate Lake, recorded close to 80 mph gusts.

The damage resulted in several calls for downed limbs in the road, with reports coming from the Tolman Creek, Dark Hollow, Sterling Creek and Griffin Creek areas. Jackson County Roads & Parks director John Vial said most of the damage was minor, or already cleared by sheriff's deputies or residents while road department employees responded.

"We have found a tree here and there," Vial said. "The wind blew hard, but it wasn't widespread."

Tina Reuwsaat said the fallen tree will not push back opening night. Darkwing Manor is still scheduled to be open 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, through Sat., Nov. 1. Admission is $10. All proceeds benefit Jackson County CASA.

"You're always behind when you're doing a production this big," Tina said.

The show must go on.

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