Large tree branch falls on Constitution Avenue, injuring two

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People rushed to help Sunday afternoon after a massive tree branch crashed down onto Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, trapping a woman and smashing a car.

"When I saw that tree fall, I thought for sure someone was probably killed," said witness Kristina Thielen.

She said the snapping bark sounded like gunshots.

"It was chaotic because everyone started screaming and just running in two separate directions," Thielen said.

Thielen and her sister, Rhonda Lee, said after the crowd scattered, everyone ran back toward the tree when they realized someone was trapped. The two sisters joined the effort.

"I think there were maybe 30 or 40 people trying to push it up to try to get the woman out, and it wasn't even moving," Thielen said.

"My arm wasn't even half way underneath it," Lee said. "It was massive. And with all these people lined up trying to lift it, it wasn't going anywhere."

Thankfully, the woman trapped avoided the heaviest part of the branch. D.C. Fire said she and another person hurt don't have serious injuries.

Patrick Ebedo had been driving to the airport when the branch dropped on top of his car, smashing his windshield.

"It was very scary," Ebedo said. "It came down like a flash."

He wasn't hurt, but had to wait for a tow truck to move his vehicle.

Crews spent hours trying to clear the debris, using chainsaws to hack up the timber. By 9 p.m., roads had re-opened, but the heaviest part of the branch remained in front of the Museum of Natural History.

People who witnessed what happened said they realized how much worse this could have been.

"We could've been been under that tree," Lee said.

"It's just amazing no one seriously got hurt," Thielen added. "It's such a huge thing and the way it fell. I'm just grateful."

Firefighters said it's unclear what caused the branch to fall.

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