Melissa Albers visits the paramedics at the Hazel Park Fire Department Aug. 24. She brought them dinner from Nick’s Pizza in Ferndale, thanking them for saving her after she was pierced by a fallen tree branch in July.

Melissa Albers visits the paramedics at the Hazel Park Fire Department Aug. 24. She brought them dinner from Nick’s Pizza in Ferndale, thanking them for saving her after she was pierced by a fallen tree branch in July.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Hazel Park woman stabbed by fallen branch, thanks paramedics

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published September 2, 2023


HAZEL PARK — Mere weeks after tying the knot, Melissa Albers and her new husband, Micah, were clearing storm debris from their Hazel Park home when a branch slid the wrong way off the roof and struck her in a near-fatal blow.

Now, the newlyweds are praising the Hazel Park Fire Department, thanking the paramedics who saved Melissa’s life.

“I’m sorry, I’m going to start crying, but I’m so thankful to live in Hazel Park,” Melissa said. “Because as much as I love the space of suburbs like Troy, where I lived before, I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if the fire station wasn’t as close by.”

The incident occurred July 16 at the Albers’ home on Elza Avenue, west of John R Road and north of Eight Mile Road. A storm had rolled through town a few days prior, littering the yard with debris from the two massive trees nearby. One piece was a branch that weighed about 200 pounds and measured 22 feet long. It had fallen on top of the one-story house.

Melissa, a certified medical assistant, had just married Micah on July 4. Both were so busy with work that they hadn’t found time to plan their honeymoon, and the storm cleanup wasn’t helping.

The Albers thought they could safely roll the branch off the side of the house. Melissa was in the yard when she gave the go-ahead to her husband on the roof. But when Micah pushed it, one of the smaller branches snagged something. Rather than falling cleanly off the side, it slid down the roof — and into Melissa.

She managed to leap out of the way, but it still struck her, piercing her chest and narrowly missing her heart and lungs.

“I just went into complete shock,” Melissa recalled. “I wasn’t even bleeding at first. I got the wind knocked out of me. I looked down and saw a huge hole in my chest, and because I work in the medical field, I know you have to hurry and press it as hard as you can, no matter how much it hurts. So I did, and the blood didn’t start pouring out until right before I heard the sirens.”

Melissa said that she and Micah were amazed by how quickly help arrived.

“My husband was talking on the phone with 911, and I don’t think it was even 30 seconds before we heard the fire sirens coming our way,” she said. “The paramedics were at our home within two minutes.”   

Melissa also has a son, Tristan, 23. Tristan’s biological father died when he was just 12.

“Thank God he was at work when (the tree branch) hit me, because he would’ve freaked out,” Melissa said.

She recalled one of the paramedics, Benjamin Moe, who was with her in the back of the ambulance as they raced to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. The other paramedic on the scene was Daniel Dery.

“If it wasn’t for (Moe) keeping me calm, I would have freaked out and bled faster. He helped me relax. He even had me laughing,” Melissa said. “As much as I do in the medical field, I could never be a paramedic, because I don’t think I’d be able to keep as calm as they were. I have a very deep appreciation for them now — paramedics, ER doctors, trauma nurses.”

Richard Story, the chief of the Hazel Park Fire Department, said he is so proud of his team.

“Accidents happen. We’re so glad Melissa is OK, and that we were there in her time of need, and that she wasn’t hurt more,” Story said. “(Moe and Dery) are younger members of our department. I’m glad to see they’re keeping their composure. We need to be on our best day when people are having their worst day. We show up and make things better, keep people calm, patch them up and give them a nice ride to the hospital. They did exactly what we need to do.”

While Melissa was discharged from the hospital the following day, she will still require surgery on her left shoulder, and follow-up to treat other issues. She said she also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Her husband, Micah, said all he remembers is trying to make himself useful in the moment.

“I was just focused on helping her,” Micah said of his wife. “I feel relieved now. It’s still stressful, though, because it’s going to take a long time (to recover).”

The tree incident wasn’t Melissa’s first close call in life. Twenty years ago, she nearly died on an operating room table. Five years later, she was the passenger in a car crash on Interstate 75.

Yet despite those incidents, and the latest with the tree, she still has her sense of humor.

“I will be able to recover from this. I always do,” Melissa said. “I’m like a cat — I’m on my fifth life now. And that’s great. I still have four more lives, so I’m good to go!”