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Branch pins, injures woman during cleanup

A woman was injured Tuesday afternoon at her Clearwater home when a large tree branch fell on her.

Sandra Stonemark, 56, was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center after the accident, said her husband, Hank Lipka.

Lipka said he was sawing the branches off a tree in their front yard on S Venus Avenue Tuesday afternoon while his wife picked up smaller branches. The jacaranda tree survived the weekend hurricane, but Lipka decided he wanted to cut it back.

He had cut off a good-sized limb, which was resting on the ground atop a number of smaller limbs, when the branch rolled and struck Stonemark, who was bending over to pick up other debris, Lipka, 57, said.

"It rolled on her," he said.

The branch _ which at its base is about as thick as a telephone pole _ landed on Stonemark's back and pinned her to the ground, Lipka said. He lifted the branch off his wife, who suffered bruises and abrasions. She did not lose consciousness, he said.

He said paramedics were on the scene quickly and decided to fly his wife of about five years to the trauma center as a precaution.