Pamela Mauer had just dropped off her elderly parents and was about a mile away from her Wayland home Sunday night.
“I was just driving along and heard a loud crack,” she said.
Moments later, a towering tree snapped at its base, ripped down power lines, and smashed onto her car.
“The tree just jumped out at me,” she said.
Mauer, 57, had little time to process the impact of the tree, as the car suddenly caught fire.
“I was trapped,” Mauer said. “The impact didn’t do any awful damage to me, it was across the car. But then the car went into flames and that was quite awful.”
Fire crews responded to the scene on Woodridge Road just before 8 p.m. and immediately alerted the power company to shut off power in the area, fire officials said in a statement.
The tree was three feet in diameter at its base and crushed the car’s roof down more than a foot, fire officials said. The tree was too large to move off the vehicle.
“There was no unusual weather as far as I know,” said Fire Chief Vincent Smith. “I don’t know what caused it to fall.”
Mauer said the tree was rotted.
Firefighters used a dry chemical extinguisher and water to put out flames and cool the interior of the car, fire officials said.
Mauer was speaking to firefighters during the rescue effort.
Firefighters then worked to open the rear doors of the car and moved the backs of the front seats so that Mauer could be taken out on a back board, fire officials said.
A firefighter remained at the driver’s side door to keep her calm while crews worked.
“I am the luckiest person on Earth, I believe,” Mauer said. “I’m still alive and that’s the great part, thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Wayland fire and police departments.”
She said she is thankful that she had already brought her parents home.
“I’m just so grateful that they weren’t in the car,” Mauer said.
Mauer was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for possible smoke inhalation.
She said her clothes were burned and her hair was singed.
“It was quite terrifying. However, I am just so lucky,” Mauer said. “I didn’t get crushed by the tree. I didn’t get electrocuted by the power lines. I didn’t get a lot of burns and I escaped.”
Mauer was kept overnight at the hospital, but is feeling okay. She said her back hurts and her body is achy.
She plans on getting lots of rest and might try to retrieve a few belongings from her car.
“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.