Tree crushes teen’s car on 19th birthday during last week’s windstorm

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — It’s a sight no teenager would want to see, especially on their 19th birthday — their car crushed by at least one tree.

On Tuesday night, Ryleigh Bowes spent the night at her grandfather’s house. Dale Turpin lives alone since his wife, Nora, passed away in October.

As he was laying in bed on Wednesday morning, he was startled.

“I have sleep apnea, and my CPAP machine quit functioning so that’s what woke me up,” he said.

Turpin heard the wind, then a few big crashes right outside his house.

“Came out, looked out the kitchen window and went oh my God,” he said. “Five trees fell between our power pole and our house.”

Underneath some of the trees was Bowes’s car.

“And it was her 19th birthday that day, so what a way to celebrate your birthday, wake up, find your car looking like a pancake,” Turpin chuckled.

Tree crushes Spokane teen's car

They lost power and started doing what they could to heat up the house.

“We threw some wood in the fireplace and cranked that up a little bit,” Turpin said. “Course, most of the heat goes up the chimney but it gave us a sense that we were warm.”

Turpin borrowed a generator from his son-in-law so he could use his CPAP machine. Over the next day or two, Turpin said he noticed his neighbors had their lights on.

“You could see all the other houses around were getting lit up and then they left,” he explained, “and I thought I wonder why they didn’t install my power?”

He called Inland Power several times, and the representatives told him they’re working on restoring power.

“That’s what frustrated me. Not that I didn’t have power,” Turpin said. “They were lots of people, hundreds, thousands of people didn’t have power, but why didn’t I when everyone around me did.”

On Saturday afternoon, Inland Power showed up to his home and started working on the power pole next to his house.

Turpin talked to a worker about why his home didn’t get power when others around him did. Turpin said the worker told him because of the manpower and time it would’ve taken to power up his home, they moved those resources to another spot to power up 50 homes.

He said he wished Inland Power would’ve told him that sooner, but understood why the decision was made.

There was only a little bit of damage done to Turpin’s roof, though his granddaughter’s car was destroyed.

“A car is a car. You can get a new one,” Ryleigh Bowes said. “A house and lives is something that you can’t.”

She said she was fortunate enough to get a new car, but more importantly, Bowes said she was thankful she was there with her grandpa during the storm.

“Right place, right time just because if something were to actually or really bad happen like a tree land on the house itself, I would be here with grandpa,” she said.

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