California redwood falls on car, kills parents of 5 children

CRESCENT CITY, Calif. (AP) — A towering California redwood tree fell on a car as a couple drove on a scenic highway of the state’s northern coast, killing the parents of five children. reported Monday that the accident happened last week when the 175-foot-tall (53.3-meter) tree fell on Highway 199 in an area heavily forested with the trees near Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Jessica and Jake Woodruff were taking the drive to celebrate her 45th birthday when the tree fell on March 25, reported, citing a GoFundMe page established to support the family from the small California city of Yreka.

Officials did not know why the tree fell, California Highway Patrol Officer Brandy Gonzalez told SFGate. Winds were light at the time and there is no wind sensor where the accident happened, but a nearby sensor had recorded winds of 9 mph (14.4 kph), National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Aylward said.

“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.”

The GoFundMe page had raised more than $165,000 as of Tuesday.

“This was a shocking and unexpected event, and the tragedy of this accident makes it difficult to accept as real,” the page said. “These 5 children are now left without parents and are facing a lifetime of expenses.”