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A Gillsville, Ga., man was critically injured last Wednesday after saving his 6-year-old niece from a falling tree limb, the Gainsville Times reports.

Dwight Dupree and his niece, Cara Johnson (pictured) often sat under the the tree in front of his home because of the shade, his nephew, Donta Ware, told The Times.

“He was sitting under the tree and heard a big crack,” Ware said. “He had his niece with him and tried to push her out of the way — she’s OK, but the tree caught him across the small of the back.”

Her brother, 16-year-old Josh Johnson, was in the house when he heard the tree fall. He said it felt like an earthquake when it fell. Johnson was able to move the limb off his uncle before the paramedics arrived. Jeff Johnson, the children’s father, said the tree had been struck by lighting twice.

“Every day they sit out under the tree and try to enjoy the shade,” Ware said. “It was a rotten tree — I knew one day it would fall. I feel like my uncle saved her life.”

At first, the family said doctors thought Depree had hurt his back, but learned that he actually had a cracked spine and internal bleeding; he underwent nearly four hours of emergency surgery Thursday night, according to CBSAtlanta.

As of late last week, Dupree was listed in “satisfactory condition.”

Man Critically Injured After Saving Niece From Falling Tree  was originally published on