Camper Tried Desperately to Lift Tree Off of Little Boys

When a huge pine tree fell on top her her little boy during Friday night's severe storms, a desperate mother ran looking for help inside Parvin State Park

By Karen Araiza
|  Wednesday, Jul 4, 2012  |  Updated 5:10 PM EDT
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Camper Tried to Lift Tree Off Little Boys

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June 30, 2012: Cousins, Matthew Felder, 2, and Donovan Newell, 7, died when a huge pine tree fell on their tent inside Parvin State Park.

When a 40 to 50 foot pine tree fell on top of her little boy during Friday night’s severe storms, a desperate mother ran looking for help.

It was the middle of the night in the middle of Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, New Jersey. Stephanie LaChance and Luis DaSilva had run from their camping tent to their car for more shelter from the storm.

“We heard thunder, the rain pouring and just, trees falling. We were trying to get out of there and out of nowhere, the mother of the 2-year-old ran to our car and just started banging on the window, screaming, ‘My son! My son!’”

LaChance recounted her story to the Gloucester County Times. She called 911 and her boyfriend ran over and tried to get the tree off of little Matthew Felder, but it was so big and heavy, he couldn’t so he ran to get more help.

Two-year-old Matthew Felder and his seven-year-old cousin, Donovan Newell, both died in the freak accident. They were cousins. Their families were camping in the park right next to each other and then when the storm hit, they decided to all huddle together in one tent. The massive tree snapped in half and fell right onto that tent.

Viewings for Matthew and Donovan are being held Thursday evening, July 5, at the Bell-Hennessy Funeral home in Monroe Township, New Jersey.

On the funeral home's website, the tribute for Matthew says: 

Matthew enjoyed playing in his sand box and slides, chasing his older brother around the house. He was always with his "B" and would greet everyone with a roar. 

And for Donovan:

Donovan was full of life. He enjoyed playing baseball, soccer, football, swimming, riding his scooter and playing in his sandbox. He loved hanging out with his Poppy and playing with his poppy's dogs.

Friends of the families have set up a fund to help offset the costs of services.  They are hoping to raise $10,000.

NBC10 Chief Meteorologist Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz explained that the storm was a rare “super” derecho. The Storm Prediction Center of NOAA defines it as “widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.”

You can watch the phenomenon in this You Tube video:

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