FREEPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The powerful storm that blew through New England earlier this week ripped down thousands of trees across the state.
It’s some of the most trees ever pulled down in one storm in Maine. While those trees laying on the ground seem harmless, a mother learned that they are not.
Looking around at the toppled trees brings back very painful memories for Jennifer Gowen. It takes her back 7 years ago, to the day she lost her son.
“I think about him every day and it’s still hard especially when I see these trees down, it makes me nervous”, she said.
It was this same month, November, in 2010. Hurricane Irene blew through Maine, tearing down trees. Jennifer Gowen was in her yard in Pownal picking up the mess with her five year old son Issac, while her dad was cutting up a large tree that had fallen.
“I heard a snap and the tree snapped back up, and my son, he was not there, he was gone. It took all of two seconds. He was gone and my whole life changed. And that was one of the hardest things to see, them carry my son’s lifeless body to the ambulance”, she said.
Isaac had jumped into the whole, called a root ball, created when the tree was ripped out of the ground. When the top section of the tree was cut off, the weight shifted to the bottom, sending the trunk back into the hole.
“I had no idea once you relieve the weight off the front half of the tree that it could come back up. I had no idea it could do that and i’m not sure a lot of people do”, Gowen said.
Right now there are thousands of these holes in Maine next to fallen trees. To children, they can look like a fun place to play. Jennifer is urging parents not to let their kids go near them. As she learned, even if you’re keeping a close watch on them, it can happen in an instant.
“If I can at least reach even one other person so that they don’t have to go through the heartbreak in losing a child. That was the worst thing that could ever happen to me”, she said.
As much as a freak accident as it was, it was not the first time it happened in Maine. Five years earlier another boy, 4-year old Lucas Herrin, was killed in a similar manner. Jennifer found comfort in talking with his mother Suzanne and to this day they still keep in contact.
"She helped be my strength through this because i figured if she could do it, I could make it too”, she said.
Jennifer says this also took a huge toll on her dad. He blamed himself, even though it wasn’t his fault. He was simply helping her clean up the yard.
She's urging parents to keep their children away from these holes and have a talk with your kids about how dangerous they can be.