'She wasn't breathing': Driver helps woman hit by tree in Winnipeg storm

A Winnipeg man who found a woman unconscious on the road with a heavy tree branch stuck on her neck Friday during the storm is hoping to get an update on her condition and meet a passerby who helped keep the injured woman warm.

Limited state of emergency declared Saturday night in Manitoba after unprecedented storm

Mike Boni was driving on Cathedral Avenue Friday morning when he came across an unconscious woman hit by the tree branch behind him. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

A Winnipeg man who found a woman unconscious on the road, with a heavy tree branch across her neck, Friday during the storm is hoping to get an update on her condition and meet a passerby who helped keep the injured woman warm.

Mike Boni was driving on Cathedral Avenue on Friday afternoon when he noticed a large tree branch blocking the road. He slowed down and then spotted a woman he estimates is in her 60s — pinned under the branch.

She was unresponsive.

"She was just sitting down on the road there. There was another lady ... a little bit flustered I could see, so I just wanted to stop and see what was going on."

"We said, 'hey like are you OK?' and we checked and she wasn't breathing either so you know things got a little bit more serious."

The woman is one of at least two people who have been injured in Winnipeg as a result of the massive storm that prompted Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to declare a limited state of emergency Saturday after a request from Manitoba Hydro.

This is the branch that hit the woman Friday morning. It was still on Cathedral Avenue Sunday. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Boni and the other woman sprung into action, and pushed the large branch off the injured woman.

"It was restricting her airway and that's number one priority absolutely, is get her in a position that's she's not suffocating."

Mike Boni took this photo after the first responders arrived to help the woman who he noticed was on the ground unconscious Friday. (Submitted by Mike Boni)

Boni worried about moving the massive branch, fearing it could drop on the woman's head and potentially injure her even further.

"When I tried pushing it, it felt like it was probably about 200 pounds or so due to the snow."

He said the woman was bleeding, but finally started breathing again once the branch was moved.

A third woman arrived and called 911. The operator instructed them to keep the injured woman on her back because she might have had a spinal injury, Boni said. They were told to keep her head tilted back so her airway stayed open.

Boni thinks the branch might have fallen on the woman while she was trying to get into an SUV parked next to where she lay. The vehicle's mirror was knocked off.

The Winnipeg realtor hasn't stopped thinking about the incident Friday that sent the woman to hospital in critical condition. He's hoping to get an update and find out how she's doing.

"I would love to say hi to her and make sure she's doing OK. It would be really really nice."

He'd also like to meet the woman who called 911 as well as the other lady who helped push the branch off the injured resident.

City of Winnipeg spokesperson David Driedger said Sunday he was unable to provide an update on the woman's condition, citing privacy.

The mirror on this SUV was broken by the branch that fell. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

He said he just before 12 p.m. on Friday the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responded to reports of a person struck by a fallen tree branch on Cathedral Avenue and that one individual was transported to hospital in critical condition.

About the Author

​Austin Grabish started reporting when he was young, landing his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. Email:


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