Kitsap County woman killed after tree falls on her house


by Associated Press and KING 5 News

Posted on December 14, 2010 at 7:13 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 14 at 5:58 PM

Woman killed after tree falls on house

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SEATTLE -  Already soggy from heavy weekend rains, Western Washington was hit by a squall line of thunderstorms overnight that knocked out power in places with gusty winds and falling tree limbs.

The storm claimed the life of Diane Walker, 55, after a tree fell onto her Southworth home.

Around 12:30 a.m., an old growth Douglas fir onto the house in South Kitsap County, killing Walker who was asleep inside.

Walker was a well-known employee at Southworth Grocery, which is located just blocks from the ferry, and like a relative to many people who knew her.

"She was like a sister to me," said Trina Hauge, who worked at the grocery store with Walker for the past 15 years.  "Her soup was famous here.  She had her own recipes and knew how to do it all."

Rachel Wickberg, Walker's daughter, said her mother took care of anyone who needed help.

"Everybody knew who she was," Wickberg said.  "I could go anywhere and everybody knew who I was because of my mom."

Two other people were also in the home at the time: the woman's 27-year-old son, Andy Wickberg, and a friend of the family, Damon Handley. They were not hurt, but the tree missed them by around 15 feet.

"It shook everything," Handley said.  "Your whole body shakes."

About seven hours before the tree fell, Andy Wickberg arrived in town from California, surprising Walker and the rest of the family.  After going out with friends and relatives, Walker returned home to get some sleep before her 6 a.m. shift at the grocery store.  Andy Wickberg and Handley arrived at the home minutes before the tree fell.

In other parts of Western Washington, commuters on their way to work encountered fallen trees, power lines and branches. Several streets in various neighborhoods were closed.

"There's a lot of trees down, power lines down. Elliott Road is completely blocked off. It's kind of hard to get around," said one driver in Maltby, which was especially hit hard by the winds.

And winds knocked down nearly a dozen trees onto I-5 near Milepost 55 between Chehalis and Kelso.  Other reports of downed trees were reported in Bremerton, Des Moines and Roy. Read: Check traffic.

Road closures

The Seattle Department of Transportation reopened Lake Washington Boulevard between Lake Park Drive S and 43rd Avenue S. The roadway was closed while the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department did follow-up work to a landslide at that location.

One lane is open on 6000 block of Beach Drive with traffic alternating in each direction.

Rail service disrupted

Amtrak trains between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. are canceled due to a slide in New Westminster B.C. Passengers are being bused.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe lifted a 48-hour safety moratorium imposed over the weekend after mudslides hit tracks in several places during heavy rains in Western Washington.

Sounder commuter train service resumed for the Tuesday afternoon service.