Falling limb kills 26-year-old mother

Branch fell on multiple people in Poe Springs Park in Alachua County


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A 26-year-old mother injured by a falling tree limb Sunday afternoon outside of Gainesville has died, according to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.

Briana Giunta was taken to a Gainesville hospital after the limb fell at Poe Springs Park in High Springs, which is about 30 minutes northwest of Gainesville. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital, deputies said.

News4Jax has learned Giunta was with her boyfriend and her two young children when the accident happened.

The Sheriff's Office also received reports of other trees downed in the area because of the storm.

"It's my understanding that it was a very large tree limb that broke out of the top of a tree as this storm came into the area there," ACSO spokesman Art Forgey said. "It was a very violent storm."

Giunta was one of three people injured by the tree limb, which fell just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The other two had only minor injuries and refused to be transported to the hospital.

Giunta's boyfriend and children were not hurt.

"I know the boyfriend says he heard a large crack and when he turned around, she had been hit with the limb," Forgey said.

It's unclear if the children saw the limb fall.

Giunta used to work at a Gainesville area salon, and her former co-workers said they were saddened to hear about her death.

Alachua County, which is investigating the incident, has brought in the Alachua County Sheriff's Office to be the lead investigating agency because someone was killed.

"Anytime that we're faced with a situation that involved an accident on county property we have an investigatory process that we go through and we have started that process with this incident," county spokesman Mark Sexton said.

The Sheriff's Office said it's unclear if the limb fell because of lightning or high winds.
Sexton wouldn't say if anyone would be heading to the park to inspect the trees.

Though the investigation has not determined if the falling tree limb was directly related to storms in the area, county officials still reminded residents that when a large storm is coming into the area people should find shelter or take cover immediately.

Officials advise residents to check the weather often with their smartphones or computers.

It's believed Giunta, her boyfriend and children were trying to get to shelter when the limb broke. An autopsy was being performed on Giunta on Monday to make sure all of her injuries were consistent with the accident.

But investigators said they believe her death was the result of a freak accident, and they do not suspect foul play.

"It appears to be a terrible tragedy at this point," Forgey said.