Man trapped under tree during Hurricane Irma remains critical

Cole Pruitt, 25, undergoes 5 surgeries in 8 days

By Jennifer Ortega - Reporter

CLERMONT, Fla. - In the peak of Hurricane Irma pushing through the area, a tree smashed into a home and forced emergency crews to risk their lives to save a man.

"The neighbors said it sounded like a bomb went off," Kristi Human said.

Video shows how deep the branches of the tree came inside the home, pinning down Cole Pruitt, 25. A mattress, now unrecognizable, was covered in debris.

Human said the damage to the outside of the house doesn't even compare to the destruction inside.

"They have lost everything," she said. "I mean, clothes, furniture -- you name it. Every room has a branch penetrating, the ceiling has fallen, the ceiling fans have fallen, there's insulation everywhere."

Human said the tree crashed in with so much force that it broke her brother's ribs and punctured his lungs.

"The tree branches have pinned the mattress so deeply that the mattress is depressed," she said.

She said her mom called her in a panic that night, not knowing how long it would take emergency crews to show up.

"My mom called 911 and they said, unfortunately we can't give you an arrival time because there are 70 mph winds," Human said.

Police said it was difficult to get to Pruitt because hurricane winds were starting to pick up at that time.

Human said since then, Pruitt has been in the hospital for eight days and has undergone five surgeries. They have put up a GoFundMe page for help with the medical expenses.

"He was pretty emotional when he could talk, very thankful for the first responders who essentially risked their lives to save his life," Human said.

The house has been condemned and the siblings' mother is staying at a hotel nearby.

Pruitt remains in the hospital in critical condition.

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