Father of teen killed in freak accident: 'We are living every parent’s worst nightmare'

Remembering Michelle Chalk
Published: Sep. 18, 2017 at 11:18 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2017 at 6:32 AM EDT
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Michelle Chalk and family (Provided photo)
Michelle Chalk and family (Provided photo)

FORT THOMAS, KY (FOX19) - A 15-year-old student was killed when a tree fell on her while she was sitting in a hammock in Ft. Thomas.

For the first time since the freak accident, Michelle Chalk's parents are speaking out about their little girl and the Aug. 1 incident that took her life.

Patty and Keith said their daughter was always smiling and full of confidence.

She had plans to be a dancer, or have something to do with animals, like become a veterinarian. Her parents said Michelle couldn't wait for Friday night football games and was excited to be a freshman at Highlands High School.

"When she was on stage at a recital she had lots of confidence and she could be a business woman… she could be anything. That's something she absolutely did have," Keith said.

Her father doesn't remember the last thing he said to her, but said they had a good evening before the tragedy happened.

"We talked about the week ahead. She had made plans with her friends to get together, she was going to take some DVD's and take some 2 liters we had left from a graduation party. They were going to sit in the house and watch DVD's… and that's the last thing I remember of seeing her," he said.

The teen was on a hammock in the backyard of a friend's house with another juvenile when one of the two trees it was connected to collapsed, according to Campbell County police.

Michelle was killed instantly.

[Fort Thomas teen killed by falling tree while sitting on hammock]

The friends who witnessed it told her parents that someone just told a joke and she was laughing.

Shortly after, police officers arrived across town at Michelle's house.

"We come downstairs and the detective is in the living room and I say, 'it's about Michelle isn't it?'  He said 'yes. A tree fell on her, hit her in the head, she didn't make it.' And at that moment Patty broke down and I heard her scream, 'no not my baby'. And I knelt beside her, grabbed her hands and I said 'this is real, this is happening and we have to get to the hospital to see her.'

As we're driving up the long driveway to St. Elizabeth I had this guilty feeling that there was a mistake that it wasn't her. As we entered, we saw friends of hers and they both were crying and they knew Michelle, so it was no mistake.

We went into the room where Michelle was and she was laying there in the bed, and her head was wrapped in towels and bandages. You could tell there was damage. The tree did a number on her. I reached down and touched her arm and it was still warm and we cried, said our goodbyes to her, said our prayers, called family, clergy got there, friends got there… we were there for hours," Keith said.

Police said it is still unclear what caused the tree to suddenly collapse.

"We are living every parent's worst nightmare. Every time a teenager leaves the house and gets in a car, every time their child goes off to college.  There's always that fear. Every time they get on their bike and peddle away from the home, there's always the fear that they're not coming back home and for us, that was Michelle. She left to go to a friend's house, everything was normal and she didn't come home," Keith said.

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