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Holliston woman, 79, freed from fallen tree

A 79-year-old Holliston woman was injured Thursday afternoon when a tree she was chopping down with an ax fell on her, Holliston Fire Chief ­Michael R. Cassidy said.

Cassidy said in an e-mail that firefighters and paramedics responded to a 2:20 p.m. call from a 16-year-old neighbor report­ing that the woman was trapped under a tree in her backyard on Turner Road.

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The woman was flown by a LifeFlight helicopter to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Cassidy said, and she was expected to survive.

Katelyn Springsteen, the Turner Road resident who made the call for help, identified the woman as neighbor ­Beatrice Wardford.

Springsteen said her family is friendly with Wardford, who can often be found doing work in her yard.

“She gardens all the time,” Springsteen said.

The Holliston High School honor roll student said she discovered Wardford when she heard her calling for help shortly after Springsteen’s school bus dropped her off.

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She said the cries at first sounded like a cat meowing.

“She couldn’t breathe at all; it was cutting off the circulation,” Springsteen said.

She was fortunate to hear Wardford’s cries, she said, ­because the older woman was deep in her yard, in a wooded area far from the street, and Springsteen was wearing headphones.

“I was surprised I could even hear her, because it was far back, but I’m glad I could,” she said.

Springsteen ran to Wardford’s backyard. She said she grasped the situation as soon as she saw the felled tree.

“I immediately knew that she was underneath it,” she said.

Moving closer, she could see that Wardford was lying on her right side, with the tree pressing down on her torso.

Springsteen called 911 and then her father, who was home at the time and arrived just ahead of emergency responders.

Springsteen’s father helped a paramedic lift the tree, while another neighbor helped free Wardford’s legs, the teen said. Cassidy estimated the tree at 10 inches in diameter.

“My dad said it was really heavy,” Springsteen said.

Springsteen said Wardford was quickly able to breathe better once the tree was moved, but that she heard the elderly woman tell paramedics that she was experiencing numbness in a leg.

Wardford said she had been pinned for only a few minutes before the teenager heard her cries, Springsteen said.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.

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