In freak accident, tree topples and kills Harvard girl

Holly Camero

Jesse Peterson, 14, of East Bare Hill Road was pronounced dead at 11:44 a.m., Sunday, March 15, as the result of a freak accident in her backyard.

Peterson was outside helping her family clear brush from their yard, when she and her mother, Betsy Peterson, stopped to rest on a hammock that was tied to two trees.

According to Sgt. James Babu of the Harvard police department, one of the trees, a 12-foot ash, collapsed and struck Jesse in the head.

Babu said the 911 call came in Saturday afternoon from a neighbor who heard the mother’s cries for help. Officer Kimberly Murphy was the first to respond.

Babu said when police arrived the mother was trapped under the tree. She said she had tried to push her daughter out of the way. Firefighters had to use chainsaws to remove the tree.

Jesse Peterson was taken by MedFlight helicopter to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. Betsy Peterson was taken by ambulance to Emerson Hospital and later transferred to UMass to be with her daughter. The mother is still in the hospital suffering from severe injuries.

Babu said the tree appeared to be healthy, but had rotted from the bottom.

Harvard Post