The parents of five children were killed Thursday when a 175-foot tall redwood tree fell on top of their vehicle in Northern California, according to reports.
Jessica and Jake Woodruff, of Yreka, were traveling up the coast during an annual trip to celebrate her 45th birthday when the massive tree fell directly on their 2016 Honda, a fundraiser for the family stated.
“This was a shocking and unexpected event, and the tragedy of this accident makes it difficult to accept as real,” said the fundraiser. “These 5 children are now left without parents and are facing a lifetime of expenses.”
The tree fell as the couple was traveling near Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, reports said. Brandy Gonzalez, a public information officer with the California Highway Patrol in Crescent City called the incident “very unusual.”
“I’ve been on the department for 19 years and I’ve been in this area 12 to 13 years,” she said, according to SF Gate. “We’ve had trees fall down and cars make contact, but this kind of incident is very unusual.”
Gonzalez said the incident occurred on a nice day with no wind. It is unclear what made the tree fall.
“This is a very forested area,” Gonzalez said. “We have trees everywhere. It’s in the middle of the redwoods. It’s just old growth and we have no idea why the tree fell. It was Mother Nature.”
Ryan Aylward, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, added there were “gustier winds on the coast, but it was only to about 25 mph,” according to SF Gate.
The highway was shut down following the incident, which remains under investigation, according to reports. It’s not clear if the couple’s children were in the vehicle when the tree fell.
“We are asking that anyone who can support them, please do so, as these children are facing the devastating reality of what was just ripped from their lives in a split second,” the fundraiser added. “Those of you who know this family, know how tight-knit they are, and their lives will forever be changed.”
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