Half of a house on the 1600 block of Freeman Drive in Pine Mountain was crushed by an 80-90 foot tree at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18. A young man, Devin Storz, 21 was sleeping inside. He was instantly killed by the tree. Wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour were reported in the Grapevine Monday morning. [Top: photo from Devin's MySpace page; bottom: Patric Hedlund photo for The Mountain Enterprise]
By Patric Hedlund
Young Devin Storz, 21 was killed instantly Monday, Jan. 18 when a 90-foot pine tree was uprooted by storm winds and slammed into the house where he was sleeping.
Storz was a 2006 high school graduate who worked with the U.S. Forest Service to fight the Day fire. He was inside his parents’ home in the 1600 block of Freeman Drive in Pine Mountain. His bed was beneath the area where the tree hit around 9:30 a.m. Gusts of winds up to 80-miles-per-hour were clocked on the Grapevine Monday morning.
Storz’ father, Kip Storz, was also inside the house at the time of the accident. His mother was visiting family in New Jersey when the storm struck.
Station 58 firefighters, paramedics and Kern County sheriff’s deputies rushed to the scene to help. Firefighters were able to cut away sections of the tree to free the young man’s body. Neighbors such as Bradley Beers came to the father’s aid with a blanket, food and hot coffee, seeking to provide comfort as they waited for the coroner.
By 11 a.m. friends began flooding forward to surround Kip Storz, who was in shock and shivering. They held vigil with him while waiting for the return flight of his wife, Toni. About 50-70 people stayed through the day and night with him at Sandy Browne’s large house where he had been taken. The family will be staying there for the time being. Some went back to the destroyed home with tarps to secure contents from the weather. Others helped get Storz warm, brought food, made music, talked and cried into the night.
Memories of Devin Storz have started to roll into the newspaper. He was voted “Most Rock n’ Roll” and “Most Outspoken” in the 2006 Frazier Mountain High School yearbook.
Barbara Moritz-Stark wrote at com website: “Devin Storz was one of my students and a family friend. Devin was an intelligent, creative and charismatic young man. He graduated high school [through] an independent study program with Homeschool Outpost in 2006.”
Storz suffered burns in 2006 while fighting the Day fire with the USFS (the blaze caused 85 percent of mountain residents to evacuate).
To help rebuild their home and lives, a Storz Family account has been set up at Antelope Valley Bank. Donation jars are placed around town. Call Sandy Browne (242-1366) to help.
This is part of the January 22, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.