An Illinois fireworks show in honor of the Fourth of July turned deadly when a tree branch fell onto a group of spectators.
Rock Island County Sheriff Gerald Bustos said at a Wednesday press conference, shared on WQAD’s Facebook page, that a 45-foot long branch with a 8-foot, 2-inch circumference from a tree located on the Rock Island County Courthouse lawn fell about 25 feet onto a group of people gathered for the annual “Red, White and Boom” celebration on Tuesday around 9:40 p.m. local time.
Two people were killed by the fallen branch: Daniel Mendoza Sr., 61, of Rock Island died at the scene, while Lawrence Anderson, 72, of Moline was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Autopsies for both are scheduled for Wednesday.
An additional six people were taken to the hospital for treatment, including a pregnant woman. Bustos said the 21-year-old woman, who was near term, gave birth. “I’m told that mother and child are in good health,” he said.
KWQC later reported that the baby was named after the two men who lost their lives, and has the moniker: KaMaree Kathleen Lawrence Daniel Carter.
A couple from Maysville, Iowa, and their 2-year-old son suffered minor injuries, while a 3-year-old boy from Bettendorf, Iowa, was treated for a suspected concussion. A Moline woman also suffered a suspected concussion and other minor injuries.
Bustos estimated the oak tree to be about 100 years old. However, he said the tree “although old was in good health.” He also pointed out that weather wasn’t a factor in the accident, as it was a hot summer night with barely any wind.
The sheriff added there was an ongoing investigation into the accident and said he would provide another update Thursday afternoon. Bustos also said an arborist was going to examine the tree to help determine the condition of it.
“Because of this tragic incident, we’re going to be looking at all of the trees there, and make sure we do everything we can do to keep that area safe,” he said.