Gerald Blake talked to Sherry Lynn Lowe about cutting down dead trees near her mobile home Tuesday, about 45 minutes before a severe storm blew in.
Clearing brush on his mother’s property next door, Blake and his three sons, ages 10-14, took shelter in his car at the end of Lowe’s driveway, and Blake told his boys to stay put when the bending trees made him decide to get Lowe, 54, out of her home.
“I had no more than said that than we saw the tree come crashing through the house,” Blake said. It was a pine tree that Blake had warned was the biggest threat to the home at 503 East Millers Cove Road.
Emergency personnel responding about 3:30 p.m. found Lowe dead on her bed, with the tree and roofing material on top of her, according to a witness.
Blake said he ran to the mobile home where Lowe, a home health nurse, lived alone. He did not try to enter because of Lowe’s three protective dogs: Gypsy, a pit bull, and Bro and Mayfield, both mixed breeds.
He called out to Lowe many times and called emergency personnel. Blount County Sheriff’s Office deputies sprayed pepper spray at the dogs in order to get access.
Blake said the dogs retreated, but by the time Blount County Fire Department personnel reached the scene, Gypsy, Bro and Mayfield were back at her side.
Lowe’s daughter, Tonya Bolton of Rockford, arrived, and though Mayfield came out of the home on a leash, the other two remained by Lowe’s body and menaced emergency personnel who approached. Bolton was told that if the two dogs could not be coaxed out of the home, officers would have to shoot them.
Ultimately, Bolton was able to get them out and they were taken in by Wendell Wilson of Alcoa, a longtime friend of Lowe’s who came to the scene.
He said the dogs will have a home with him.