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3 people tried to save woman killed by tree in Bay Shore

A maple tree, seen here, crushed Julia Hughes,

A maple tree, seen here, crushed Julia Hughes, 73, of Brooklyn. Hughes was leaving a party Saturday night when fierce winds knocked down the tree on Lanier Lane in Bay Shore. (March 14, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

A tree that fell in Bay Shore during Saturday's storm took the life of a 73-year-old woman despite the efforts of a family member, a firefighter and a doctor who pulled her from a pile of collapsed branches and performed CPR.

Suffolk police said the woman, Julia Hughes of East Eighth Street, Brooklyn, was walking to her car on Saturday night when the tree fell in front of a Lanier Lane home at about 8:20 p.m.

Firefighter Peter Del Valle, who lives next door, said he responded to the scene after hearing the tree crash. Del Valle said he found a woman, whom he identified as Hughes' niece, administering CPR. He said Hughes was covered by the fallen branches of the tree.

Another neighbor, Joe Simone, a doctor of osteopathy, said he responded to the scene after he heard a call for help. The darkness made it difficult to provide assistance, said Simone, as electrical power in the neighborhood was out.

"I heard a voice say, 'My aunt was hit by the tree,' " Simone said. "I just crawled in among the branches and started helping with CPR."

Hughes was taken by paramedics to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where she was pronounced dead, said Suffolk police, who are still investigating. Two other people who appeared to be relatives of Hughes' were taken to the hospital with injuries, said Del Valle.

Public records list John and Elizabeth Schmutz as residents of the Lanier address. Occupants of the home declined to talk to a reporter Sunday.

Thomas Norman Jr., a neighbor of Hughes in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, said she was a semiretired teacher and a pleasant member of the community.

"It's terrible," he said of her death.

Del Valle, whose own Bay Shore home was struck by a tree in the storm, said that at least six large trees - all of which survived Hurricane Gloria in 1985 - fell in the neighborhood.

"What a horrible night," he said.

With James Bernstein


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