WHITTIER, Calif., Dec. 18 (UPI) — A 100-foot tall, eucalyptus tree fell on a wedding party at a Southern California park, killing one person and injuring five others, according to police and fire officials.
The tree toppled around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, trapping 20 people, Los Angeles County officials told the media.
A wedding party was taking pictures after the ceremony when the tree landed on them. Rescuers used chainsaws to free those who were trapped underneath the tree’s branches.
“I heard the crackling and I’m looking up and it was just an odd sound,” witness Mary Escarga told KNBC-TV.
The five people injured, including a young girl who was critically hurt, were taken to a hospital for treatment, Whittier police said. The other injuries were reported by fire officials as minor.
The person killed wasn’t identified.
“The scene was very chaotic,” said Sgt. Jason Zuhlke of the Whittier Police Department.
“Fortunately, there weren’t more people injured by the tree collapse,” John Tripp, a Los Angeles County Fire Department deputy chief, said at a news conference. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Rene Zaldivar, who was at the park for a quinceañera, told KNBC-TV the bride “was limping a little bit, but she was screaming about her mom – they couldn’t wake her up.”
Whittier police said it’s not known what caused the tree to fall.
The California drought and the recent heavy rainfall may have contributed to the collapse, city officials said.