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Woman killed by fallen tree in Saturday storm identified

The woman was sitting in a car near The Grove. Witnesses say it was difficult getting through to 911.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis police say a woman was killed in a weather-related incident Saturday.

A tree fell on a car at Manchester and Chouteau avenues, killing a woman who was seated inside waiting out the storm.

Police identified her Monday as 33-year-old Katherine Coen.

Authorities said they got the call around 4:40 p.m. and arrived seven minutes later. Sadly, Coen was already dead.

Helen Petty, who owns a business in the area, came shortly after the tragedy.

She said her property owner alerted her about the tree down just before 4:30 p.m.

She believes it may have taken nearly an hour before first responders arrived and by that time, it was too late.

There was also a man on the scene who was waiting out the storm in his car as well.

"When the tree came down, he was able to get out of his car, went to her, she was responsive at the time. An owner of a restaurant down the street also came out because the power went out and they could talk to her," Petty said. 

"She was responsive and they tried calling 911 repeatedly for over 30 minutes, and finally another neighbor came out who knows a county firefighter, called him to have him call somebody in the city to try to get somebody to get through just to let them know that this woman is trapped in her car," she said.

5 On Your Side has reached out to the St. Louis Police Department and the Mayor's spokespersons to get clarity on response times and whether there may have been delays in getting ahold of a 911 dispatcher. 

The City of St. Louis' Department of Public Safety issued this statement Saturday night in response to 5 On Your Side's request for comment. 

"Today’s severe storms created a large volume of 911 calls to police and fire dispatch. The Department of Public Safety is aware of the social media posts in question and is investigating the circumstances that led up to this incident."

Meantime, a worker at a local agency that works directly with the city's 911 dispatch system said the department is understaffed.

Heavy rain and winds moved over the area for the second time in two days Saturday. Areas around the region saw intense wind damage and power outages.

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