A 13-year-old girl, Teresa Johnston, in Irvine, California is fighting for her life after her skull was crushed in several places by a falling 60-foot tree during a rainstorm, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Just before 5 p.m. on Friday, February 17, Teresa left her University Park home, with a yellow umbrella in hand, to walk an elderly neighbor's dog during California's storm and never returned.
"When the rain eased up, she wanted to run over and walk these dogs for an elderly lady. She loves her like a grandmother," said the girl's father Roch Johnston.
Relatives say she is "she's usually back around 45 minutes." When hours passed, her family went in search of Teresa, fearing that she may have been kidnapped.
For half an hour, the girl's family walked around the neighborhood calling her name but no response.Their search came to an end when they learned that Teresa, who is one of six children, had been crushed by a tree, less than three minutes from her home and never made it to her destination.
Teresa's dad said a neighbor saw her walking near Dewberry Way and Sandburg Way when a 60-foot tree toppled over, crushing the Irvine teen. Apparently, a strong gust of wind was able to knock the tree over during the rainstorm.
The neighbor seemingly rushed to Teresa's aide, bringing "a pillow for her, a blanket, and held an umbrella over her until an ambulance and police showed up."
Emergency medical services rushed Teresa to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, where doctors say she suffered from severe brain trauma. It was reported that Teresa underwent a five-hour brain operation on Monday to help relieve swelling.
As of Wednesday, she remains in a medically induced coma – relatives say she is in "a very unstable state."
Roch said: "Maybe you can't see. He absolutely said 'you might not be able to'. She could be deformed. She wasn't under the center of the tree. Which is another grace from God because she could of; inches and we wouldn't have a little girl."
Teresa's older sister, Misha Johnston, created a fundraising page at You Caring to help pay for her medical expenses. Thus far, the family has amassed over $40,000 in donations.On the site, Misha wrote: "We don't know the full extent of the damage. But there are multiple cranial facial fractures. The base of her ocular orbit is fractured with a possible damage to the optic nerve. There are fractures of her maxillary bone, her zygomatic arch, her mandible, her hard pallet, her clavicle, and possible compressions of her T6, T7, and T8."
"Also, there is intracranial bleeding in her right frontal lobe and right occipital lobe. The neighbors have nicknamed her as the sunshine of the neighborhood. Please help bring our Teresa's happy face back! Thank you so much and God bless you all!"Resident Avram Grossman said: "I know almost all these people from walking dogs and living here 30 years. But we really very rarely interact with one another. Everyone has their own lives. But when a crisis like this happens, people pull together."
It was reported that Teresa remains in a comatose state after being crushed by a falling tree, and doctors will not know the likelihood of her surviving incident or the effects until she wakes up.
"She's a fighter and a beautiful person," said Misha. "And I can't wait to tell her) that I love her."
A Candlelight vigil was held for Teresa where more 50 people from the University Park community attended to show their support and offer assistance to the Irvine teen's family.
[Featured Image By schulzie/iStock]