ST. GEORGE — A woman who climbed a 30-foot pine tree and refused to come down Wednesday night is in police custody after spending about two hours up in the air.
At approximately 7 p.m. Wednesday, members of the St. George Police Department and the St. George Fire Department responded to a home in the 2700 East area of St. George after residents reported a woman had climbed a tree in their backyard and was refusing to come down.
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Video courtesy of Joshua Prue, St. George News
The owner of the home, John Prue, of St. George, said he originally discovered the woman when he was building a fire in his backyard with his 14-year-old grandson. Prue said at first he thought an animal was in his tree, but after shining a flashlight up the tree, he found that a woman had climbed almost to the top of the 30-foot pine.
“She was very vocal and (using) profanity,” Prue said.
After asking the woman to come down multiple times, Prue said, he eventually asked his wife to call the police. Once police were on scene, the woman refused to cooperate with them and was being vulgar toward them, as well.
The woman was also threatening to harm herself, Officer Jace Hutchings said in a probable cause statement supporting the woman’s arrest.
“(Her) behavior was very erratic,” Hutchings said in the statement. “She was saying how she was on fire and afraid of being harmed.”
The woman was high enough in the air that she could have been seriously hurt if she fell, St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said. To help police get closer, the Fire Department extended a ladder from a truck up to where she was.
Because the woman seemed hostile toward police officers, Hutchings was dressed up in fireman gear and was sent up the ladder. He was able to coax the woman down safely, Despain said.
Once the woman was in police custody, police discovered she had two outstanding warrants for her arrest, Despain said; one was a second-degree felony warrant for possession of a controlled substance and the other was a class B misdemeanor warrant for theft of services.
While police believe controlled substances may have been a factor in this incident, Despain said, the officers treated the situation as a psychiatric case. The woman was not found in possession of any drugs or drug paraphernalia once she was out of the tree.
The woman was arrested on both warrants and also charged with disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor. She was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility and remains in police custody at the time of this publication.
Though there was damage to Prue’s pine tree as a result of the incident, he said he will not be seeking to press any charges against the woman and hopes she gets the help she needs.
Despain said it is not altogether uncommon for police to respond to cases where people have locked themselves into rooms or other locations and refused to come out; however, he said, this is the first time he’s ever been involved in a case where the location was a tree.
“This is something we don’t see every day, that’s for sure,” Despain said.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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