An autopsy Wednesday revealed that a Ridgeland woman found unresponsive Monday night in her yard was killed by a falling tree branch, according to Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls.
Rita Lowther Rogers, 63, of Bees Creek Road was found by a neighbor at about 8 p.m., and a tree limb was near her body, Sauls said. An autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston determined she died from blunt-force trauma to the chest, he said.
"The tree limb struck her across the chest," Sauls said. "It came out of a dead pine tree that was in her yard."
Jasper County Emergency Medical Services was called to her home at about 8 p.m., soon after a storm moved through Ridgeland with strong winds, lightning and heavy rain. Rogers was taken by ambulance to Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville, where she was pronounced dead, Sauls said.
Neighbors told emergency crews they saw Rogers walking outside her home after the storm, which knocked down tree branches and power lines across Jasper County. Sauls said she might have been surveying damage from the storm.