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'It's crazy that I survived,' says Great Neck woman pinned by 5,000-pound oak tree

Stephanie Epstein, 20, of Great Neck, who survived being pinned under a 5,000-pound oak tree that fell through the roof of her parents' home while she was sleeping, thanked those who rescued her during a news conference at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset on July 31, 2015. Epstein, who was treated for multiple trauma injuries, was released from the hospital four days after the July 27 crash. (Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely)

Stephanie Epstein woke to the sound of a massive tree crashing through the roof of her parents' home.

Before she could react, she found herself trapped -- pinned to her bed by the nearly 5,000-pound oak.

"You think you are going to be safe," Epstein, 20, of Great Neck, said Friday, speaking for the first time since the neighbor's tree came crashing down early Monday. "You're in your own bed, you're in your own house . . . "

And then chaos.

Epstein, a student at Binghamton University majoring in economics, spoke at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where she was treated for multiple trauma injuries.

"It's crazy that I survived," she said. "How the heck did I survive this?"

She was sleeping in a second-floor bedroom shortly after midnight when the 75-foot oak came crashing down for unknown reasons. It took firefighters and rescue workers more than two hours to free her from the tree and roof debris. They raised the trunk off Epstein with a hydraulic lift.

Geoffrey Epstein said he woke to what sounded like a bomb exploding, followed by his daughter's screams.

"Dad! Get this tree off me!" she yelled.

The mattress absorbed some of the impact, possibly saving Stephanie's life, the father said.

"I swear it was the most frightening moment of my life," he said.

Steven Blocker, a volunteer paramedic with the Vigilant Fire Company who lives nearby, helped free and treat Stephanie.

He had just returned home from another call when he heard the crash.

"She was in very good spirits the whole time," Blocker said. "I was able to calm her down and tell her what was going on, and talk her through it."

Dr. James Maurer, who treated Epstein in the emergency room, said she didn't break any bones but had plenty of bruises, and muscle and nerve damage.

The day after the accident, she felt good enough to lobby for a guest appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

She posted a picture of herself on the TV show's Facebook page holding a sign. It read: "I want to tell Ellen DeGeneres my story."

While that plea hasn't been answered, Epstein was released from the hospital Friday, moving slowly with help from a walker. Her right arm remained heavily bruised.

"Right now, I can't get up for something so simple as going to the bathroom," she said. "It takes so much effort and wind out of you."

Maurer predicts a full recovery and said Epstein eventually will return to playing lacrosse -- one of her passions.

"I think Stephanie will be doing fine," he said. "She'll be back to doing everything because she is one tough cookie."

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