An attempt to rescue a favorite earring that went airborne during Monday's hurricane-like gusts left 17-year-old Haley Martin feeling terrified yet lucky to be alive.
Instead of retrieving the treasured piece of jewelry, Martin wound up flat on her back beneath a huge evergreen tree at her school.
"I was stuck under the tree for a few minutes, and everybody was taking videos instead of helping me," she said Wednesday afternoon while recuperating at her home in Security-Widefield.
Martin is a junior at Nikola Tesla Educational Opportunity School, on the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus off Constitution Avenue. She and a friend went outside to smoke a cigarette after first period and were walking near the front of the campus when her earring flew off.
Martin spotted it on the other side of a railing and said she had climbed halfway over when she saw the tree coming down.
She was able to scramble off the railing but wasn't quick enough to get out of the path of the falling tree.
"When I heard the noise, the tree was already in front of my face," she said.
Her friend got tangled in the debris, too, but only had a scratch. When the classmate realized Martin was hurt, she ran to get the school security guard.
Martin said she was in pain but managed to crawl out of the pile of branches.
"I couldn't walk," she said. "I used the ramp on the sidewalk to pull myself up."
She declined treatment at the school, preferring, instead, to call her mom, who insisted on taking her to a hospital.
Martin has some pulled back muscles, swollen and scratched hands and a deep cut.
She's gotten her homework assignments and may not return to school until next week.
"I'm feeling better and am really thankful it wasn't worse," she said. "I could have had broken bones or been killed. It's awesome that I'm OK."
Despite Martin having worked with her dad cutting down trees in Black Forest in the past, the accident was frightening.
"I'm terrified of the wind now," she said. Wind gusts that day exceeded hurricane speeds and caused widespread damage, including tearing off roofs, toppling trucks, downing trees and knocking out power.
The other part of her really bad day: Martin never got her earring back.
"I saw it - I'm sure it's still under the tree," she said.