Gwinnett County firefighters recovered the bodies of a couple who died after a tree fell on their home on West Garner Street in Buford as the remnants of Hurricane Zeta moved through the area.

Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the tree fell over the bed, where a man and a woman in their early 20s were located and pinned them in the bed.

The couple, including a 24-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, had reportedly been married for less than a year.

“A massive hardwood tree fell across, from the front to the back of the house, collapsed the roof in over much of the structure,” Rutledge said. “And, the tree trunk and the big limbs off the tree trunk penetrated the roof and the ceiling of the bedroom and came down there onto the bed and they were pinned by part of the tree trunk and the limbs.”

The man’s brother called 911 shortly after noon. The brother had tried to call the couple, but could not get in touch with them. That prompted him to go by the house, which is when he found the tree had crashed into the home.

“When he drove over to the house, that’s when saw the huge tree down on the house,” Rutledge said. “He noticed the vehicles in the driveway, still couldn’t get in touch with them and so he called 911.

“So, there were family members there at the scene, talking with police and fire personnel.”

Members of the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services Technical Rescue Crew worked to come up with a way to get the tree out of the home so the bodies could be recovered.

Crews called in a heavy wrecker from Williard’s Wrecker Service so its boon could be used to stabilize and harness the tree so portions of it could be cut away to gain access to the victims so their bodies could be recovered.

It is unclear when exactly the tree fell on the house. Rutledge said the fire department began receiving calls about storm damage around 4 a.m. and were still getting calls after lunch.

The bodies were turned over to the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office after they were recovered from the home.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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