NASHVILLE — A 20-year-old horse trail guide at southern Indiana's Brown County State Park was killed when she was hit by a tree limb torn down by another falling tree, authorities said.
Chelsea Lovett of Granger in northern Indiana was on horseback leading a ride Sunday afternoon when a dead 80-foot tree fell down along her path, The Herald-Times of Bloomington reported. Lovett died at the scene and a second rider was thrown from a horse and taken to a hospital with minor injuries, state conservation officers said.
Lovett was a wildlife management major at Purdue University and Penn High School graduate who had taken the spring semester off to work at the state park's horse stables.
Robert Lovett told the newspaper that his daughter died doing what she loved.
"It could have happened to anyone. She was the leader of the group," he said. "She was a happy kid, especially in this job. She loved animals. This was the ideal situation for her. It was a tragic accident."
Conservation Sgt. Paul Bykowski said it wasn't clear what destabilized the tree that fell. It was partly cloudy with wind gusts of about 20 mph at that time, according to the National Weather Service.
The horse that Lovett was riding was injured and had to be euthanized.
Rick Rectanuf, a neighbor of the Lovett family, said his 12-year-old daughter looked up to Chelsea Lovett.
"Who knows why a tree falls in the middle of the forest on a perfect Sunday afternoon," Rectanuf said. "Who knows? Maybe she is riding off to heaven now."