A 21-year-old community college student and a beloved sister to two siblings died at a hospital where she was a student intern after she was crushed by the trunk of a tree that split in half following heavy rain Wednesday, authorities and relatives say.
Michelle Mian was hit by the Norway maple tree while walking to her car outside her home in New Milford sometime before 7:30 a.m., according to police and relatives. Authorities say family members saw the tree lying over four vehicles when they woke up, and Mian's 23-year-old sister, Tabish Mian, said she found her younger sister on the ground outside when she went to check on the cars.
"I just woke up in the morning and came to the car and saw that her body was there on the ground," Tabish Mian said. "And then I saw she wasn't breathing either, and then we called the ambulance immediately."
Mian was pronounced dead shortly after arriving in the emergency room at Holy Name Medical Center, where she had been an intern in the radiology department for the last year. In a statement, the hospital described Mian as an exceptional student from the beginning of her clinical training, saying those who worked with her in the facility were blessed to have known her.
She was heading to a morning class at Bergen Community College, where she was studying radiography, when she died. The youngest of three children, Mian was an electric, warm woman who will be deeply missed, her family says.
"She was the most amazing person in the entire world and my better half, really," Tabish Mian said. "If you met her, you would have known how beautiful, artistic, talented -- she's the kindest person you'll ever meet. ... It's not fair that she's not here with us right now. It's really not."
"When you lose someone as precious and amazing as Michelle, then you hurt like this," the older sister added. "I'm never going to be OK with this. I never will be."
Police say it's not clear what caused the tree to split in half, but Wednesday morning's heavy rains may have played a role.
The severe storms blasted the region with rain and heavy winds early Wednesday, causing flash flooding in some places.