Lewis’ brush with death

By Daniel Hughes

Tocumwal's Graham Lewis knows he is lucky to be alive.

He miraculously escaped injury when a mature tree, estimated at more than 15m tall, fell on his shed while he was working inside last week.

Mr Lewis, who may be best known as one of the chefs at Finley Bakery, said it was a sheer stroke of luck the tree fell on the opposite side of the shed.

“I thought it was going to come down in the middle of the shed but luckily it didn't, or I'd probably be dead,” Mr Lewis said.

“I was sorting things out in the shed when I heard one almighty crack and I thought ‘I know what that is’, and I just froze more or less.

“I was on one side of the shed at the time when it came down, but I knew instantly what it was.

“I was just lucky I suppose.

“There was nothing that came near me when the tree fell; I was pretty lucky like that but it did scare me.”

The tree crushed the front right corner of the shed, and the whole structure was covered the the trunk or the large branches.

Mr Lewis said he had some difficulty getting out of the shed, because the branches were also blocking the door.

The Peppercorn tree is estimated to have stood in Boyd St (the section formerly known as Tuppal St) - behind the Tocumwal Recreation Reserve - for at least 100 years.

It was located on the nature strip in front of the home Mr Lewis shares with his partner Donna Poustie.

Mr Lewis said it has slowly been overrun by white ants, hollowing the tree to the point of weakness.

Ms Poustie, who grew up in the Boyd St home, said the tree has been a source of concern for some years.

She said she contacted Berrigan Shire Council a few weeks ago asking for it to be removed.

“The tree had a big crack in it and it was getting wider, so I emailed the Shire and my sister called them,” she said.

“When I heard the bang I came outside and knew he (Graham) was inside, I shouted ‘are you alive?'.

“It scared me half to death.”

The tree's branches have also covered an outdoor entertaining area at the home, where Ms Poustie said she and Mr Lewis only recently hosted more than 30 friends and family.

She estimates the clean up could take several weeks.