The parents of five were killed Thursday when a 175-foot-tall redwood tree fell on their vehicle in northern California, according to reports.
Jessica and Jake Woodruff, of Yreka, were traveling along the coast on an annual trip to celebrate their 45th birthday when the huge tree fell directly on their 2016 Honda, a family fundraiser said.
“This was a shocking and unexpected event, and the tragedy of this accident makes it difficult to accept as real,” the fundraiser said. “These 5 children are now left without parents and face a lifetime of expense.”
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The tree fell as the couple traveled near Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, according to reports. Brandy Gonzalez, an information officer with the California Highway Patrol in Crescent City called the incident “very unusual.”
“I’ve been in the department for 19 years and have been in this field for 12 to 13 years,” she said, according to SF Gate. “Trees have fallen and cars have made contact, but this kind of incident is very unusual.”
Gonzalez said the incident happened on a beautiful windless day. We don’t know what caused the tree to fall.
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“It’s a very wooded area,” Gonzalez said. “We have trees everywhere. It’s in the middle of the redwoods. It’s just old forest and we have no idea why the tree fell. It was Mother Nature.”
Ryan Aylward, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, added that there were “stronger winds on the coast, but it was only about 25 mph,” according to SF Gate.
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The highway was closed following the incident, which is still under investigation, according to reports. It is not known if the couple’s children were in the vehicle when the tree fell.
“We are asking all who can support them to do so, as these children face the devastating reality of what has just been taken from their lives in a fraction of a second,” the fundraiser added. “Those of you who know this family know how united you are and your life will be forever changed.”