Coroner releases update on Kosciusko Co. boy killed by fallen tree


Midday Wednesday update: The Kosciusko County coroner has issued an official cause of death and other information about a boy hit by a tree that fell during the storms Tuesday morning.

Here is the full release from the coroner's office:

The Kosciusko County Coroner's Office has determined following an autopsy at Northeast Indiana Forensic Center, Ft. Wayne, Indiana that Daniel Raymond Holbrook, age 14, Winona Lake Indiana died from Restrictive Asphyxia due to traumatic injuries. These injuries were associated with the events on the morning of July 1st, 2014 when a wind storm came through the area causing a large tree located on the property to fall on the bedroom area of the residential mobile home located at 1202 Wooster Road in Winona Lake. This event happened at approximately 01:15 AM on July 1st, 2014 causing severe structural damage the bedroom area that was occupied by Holbrook, causing Holbrook to be trapped under structural debris and the tree itself.

This investigation was completed by Winona Lake Police Department, Kosciusko County Coroner's Office; the rescue event was completed by the Tactical Rescue Team associated with Warsaw - Wayne Fire Department and the Winona Lake Fire Department with the assistance of a local wrecker recovery service.

At this time, this death is ruled as an accidental death.

Tuesday night's update: A terrifying scenario unfolded in a Kosicusko County mobile home park during the height of storms that swept across the area early Tuesday morning. A falling tree killed 14-year-old Danny Holbrook, of Winona Lake.

Neighbors all recalled hearing the same thing - a gust of wind, a cracking noise and then they felt the ground shake when a huge tree came crashing down in the back corner of the Fairlane Mobile Home Park off Wooster Road.


CJ Hollon said he and Holbrook, his best friend, were hanging out, talking on their cell phones around 12:45 or 1 a.m. Tuesday. In an instant, a fun summer night turned deadly.

"I was freaking out because I didn't know what happened," CJ recalled.

Debris was everywhere. CJ shouted his friend's name.

"I just heard him go 'uggh,'" CJ recalled. "And I called [his name] again but he never answered. So then I tried to dig through it to get him, to pull him out and see if he's ok. But it was all blocked so I couldn't."

He ran for help but it was too late. Witnesses say Holbrook died instantly, sending shock waves through the close-knit community.

"He was friendly," said Diego Morales, who knew the boy. "He was always outside doing something - mowing yards for $2, $3, just to be outside. There'd be a foot of snow out and he'd be shoveling for people and stuff."

Holbrook lived in the trailer hit by the tree with his grandmother. His sister salvaged two of her brother's t-shirts from the mess as keepsakes for a life cut short.

"No, it's not fair. It shouldn't happen like this," said CJ's mother, Chrissy Hollon. "I feel sorry for the family. They're in my prayers. They're good people."

Holbrook would have been in the 8th grade at Lakeview Middle School next month. His best friend CJ saw more than any 10-year-old should ever have to and must now find a way to move on without him.

[I just need to] pray and see if he's OK up there," CJ said.

A second trailer was buried under the massive downed tree at the back of the park. People were also home there when it came down but they got out OK.

People living in that back corner of the mobile home park said both they and the property manager knew the tree that fell had been rotting from the inside. A tree company had been contacted and neighbors said they were just waiting for the company to come out and cut it down.

We will continue to follow these developing stories and will have a full report on WSBT News at 5 and 6 -- and stay with us here online for the latest.

Click here for more storm damage information and resources: