'At 5pm she was at her desk and at 5.30 this happened as she went home. God help her'
THE woman killed by a falling tree in a freak accident as she walked home from work was the daughter of a former government chief whip.
Lynda Collins, a devoted mother of three, died in what her family described yesterday as "a very sudden and shocking" incident in Dublin on Thursday evening.
Ms Collins, who was due to celebrate her 46th birthday yesterday, was crossing Waterloo Road when the mature tree snapped behind her in the gale force winds. She tried to escape its path, but was pinned down.
"At five she was at her desk in the ESB and at half five this happened as she walked home," her brother Tom O'Brien told the Irish Independent. "It is just incredible. God help her."
Eyewitnesses said there were between 50 and 100 people on the scene within seconds attempting to comfort her and to move the tree, but it was too heavy.
The emergency services freed Ms Collins, but she was pronounced dead at St Vincent's Hospital shortly afterwards.
Her husband Richard, financial director with Superquinn, was rushed by gardai to the hospital but his wife had already passed away. The couple have three children: Georgia (14), Robert (13) and Juliana (8).
"She was a great mother," Mr O'Brien said. "She really looked after her youngest -- she looked after them all -- but her youngest has special needs and she really looked after her very well.
"She was just great, full of energy, a chartered accountant, worked in the ESB, just a great girl, a great girl."
Her husband Richard described her as a "very giving person", and spoke of her charity work and how she put her own career on hold to help Juliana overcome severe epilepsy.
"She was a really outgoing and warm person, and a great mixer, whereas I'm the opposite," he said. "I knew the day I met her I wanted to marry her."
Ms Collins had worked in the ESB offices on Fitzwilliam Street, following in the footsteps of both her father and her grandfather.
"We have a long tradition in the ESB, she was well-known and liked in there," her brother said.
Her father, Fergus O'Brien (80), is a former Fine Gael TD for Dublin South Central, and twice served as Chief Whip in governments led by Garret FitzGerald in the 1980s. He retired from the Dail in 1992.
Ms Collins was the second eldest of six. Yesterday, flower bouquets were left at the scene of the incident -- outside the International School of Dublin -- while tree surgeons cleared the site and ensured remaining trees were secure. The driver of a car that was struck by the same tree managed to escape without serious injury.