At least one person has died and five others have been inured — including a 4-year-old little girl — after a eucalyptus tree came crashing down onto a wedding party in Whittier’s Penn Park around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
“Pray for these families out in Penn Park in Whittier,” Gilbert Duran, who was attending a Quinceañera party across from the wedding, said on a video he posted to Facebook, minutes after the tree fell.
Duran became emotional while describing the traumatic scene.
“The crazy thing is that we were under there like five minutes ago. We were standing under there and we moved from there.” He added, “there are still kids under there,” he said, adding that he has young children as well. “The fire department is working and they’re trying to get everybody out. I can’t believe this man. It’s just crazy.”
Duran suggested in his Facebook video that the person who died was the mother of the bride.
The Whittier Police Department has indicated the 4-year-old little girl is in critical condition as a result of head trauma.
According to the Orange County Register, firefighters used chain saws to cut through the tree’s thick bark. Witnesses reportedly described hearing a loud crack and seeing people flee from the area.
— tiniskwerl (@tiniskwerl) December 18, 2016
The Register said officials suggested the tree’s roots could have been weakened by years of California’s ongoing drought and that recent, heavy rain could have contributed to its fall. An arborist will reportedly assess the area on Sunday.
Local ABC News affiliate ABC 7 notes that city officials plan to examine other trees in the area to prevent a similar incident from taking place. ABC7 also notes that members of the traumatized wedding party were brought to a local senior center to meet with mental health counselors.
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