An eight-year-old girl died after being struck by a falling branch during the high winds of Storm Ellen, an inquest has been told.
Maisy Mayne suffered “catastrophic” injuries and died instantly after being struck on the head.
An inquest in Maidstone heard her younger sister was also seriously injured in the freak incident.
The hearing was told that Maisy had been walking with her two young siblings, her maternal grandparents and her grandmother’s sister along with the family dogs at a wooded spot in Bobbing, Kent, on August 21.
The incident sparked a huge emergency response.
Maisy’s parents, including mother Nicole, a police officer, were present at the inquest as the terrible events of that day were investigated.
There were warm temperatures that day, but trees in the area were seen to be swaying “significantly”, the inquest heard, buffeted by gusts as high as 40mph as Storm Ellen struck parts of the UK.
The hearing was told that the dogs jumped into a pond, and Maisy and her siblings went to look at a fallen tree.
A large branch then became detached from a tree and fell, trapping her beneath it.
Perry Bailey, her grandfather, said in a statement at the inquest: “I tried to move the tree from Maisy but it was too much weight to move on my own.
“I thought that she was dead.”
Maisy had suffered “catastrophic” injuries – including severe head trauma as well as a broken leg, the inquest heard.
Her younger sister also sustained serious injuries and had to be airlifted to hospital, but later recovered.
The coroner was told that the lane where the incident unfolded had been a public right of way until 2014 but was not any longer.
Assistant coroner James Dillon expressed his condolences to Maisy’s parents.
He said: “The fact of this inquest is it’s tragic. It’s an unforeseeable tragic circumstance that Maisy happened to be beneath the tree when the branch fell.
“As another parent, I understand the tragedy that has unfolded here.”
He recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
After Maisy’s death, the family set up an appeal to raise money for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Fund and The Kings College Hospital Picu Ward, KentLive reported.
Donations were also being taken for the Rhys Daniels Trust, which provides free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation at specialist children’s hospitals.
Her family issued a tribute on the page that read: “In loving memory of Maisy Elizabeth Susan Mayne who was tragically taken on 21st August 2020, aged 8 years.
“Our Maisy, our beautiful girl and amazing big sister to William and Isla.
“We will miss you so, so much darling xxxx
“We have set up these charities to donate to because the Kings hospital saved Isla’s life after needing brain surgery from this tragic accident.
“The air ambulance for treating her at the scene and getting her to the hospital.
“The Rhys Daniels charity have given us a place to stay right by the hospital so we can be with Isla whilst she recovers.
“All of these are amazing charities and without them we’d have lost both our girls x
Their efforts have so far raised thousands of pounds for good causes.
If you would like to donate to Maisy’s appeal, you can do so here.