One Dead, Several Injured After Tree Falls on Wedding Party in Southern California

A 4-year-old girl was also transported to a trauma center after the tree collapsed

One person is dead and five other were injured after a large eucalyptus tree fell on a wedding party in Whittier, California, on Saturday afternoon, according to a statement released by the Whittier Police Department.

At 4:30 p.m., authorities responded to a report that a large tree fell on a wedding party while they were taking photos in Penn Park. All injured persons were transported to local hospitals, and one — described as “a 4-year-old female in critical condition as a result of head trauma” was taken to a trauma center, according to the statement and a press conference with officials from both the police department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Of the six victims involved, one “succumbed to their injuries,” according to the statement. The victim who died was reportedly an “older woman,” the fire department described to KTLA. Aside from the patient transported to the trauma center, all other injuries are “minor scrapes and bruises,” the fire official said in the press conference held Saturday night.

Keith Durflinger/The Whittier Daily News/AP

“The officers responding initially went to work right away, did the best they could to start getting larger limbs and people out from under the tree and then our partners at L.A. County Fire arrived shortly thereafter and we were able to cooperatively manage that scene and start getting victims out and getting victims triaged,” a police official said at the press conference, which was posted to the LACoFD’s Facebook page.

Keith Durflinger/The Whittier Daily News/AP

One witness shared a photo of the scene on their Twitter page, which they captioned, “Tree fell on ppl at Penn park.”

Shortly after the tree fell, the fire department issued a statement via Twitter that said, “#PennIC #Whittier large tree fell on wedding party. Many patients injured. Fire dept onscene assessing the situation and treating people.”

The department also retweeted video showing fire officials responding to the scene.

Truck and engine companies started working to free those trapped under the tree using chainsaws, the fire department official said in his statement.

First responders and people at the scene were provided with mental health professionals and chaplains to deal with this traumatic event. The fire official added that he could not name or detail the victim who died during the tragic tree fall.

“We’re trying to make sure that we give all the dignity and respect of that family,” he said. “They were here for a joyous occasion and then unfortunately, a very large tree interrupted that, and they, right now, are going through a lot of issues that we’re trying to make sure to support.”

The fire official said had there been more people directly under the tree, “there would not have been minor injuries. Fortunately, there weren’t more people that were injured by the collapse. It could have been a lot worse.”

The city is currently analyzing weather conditions — including the drought conditions and “large amount” of rain that has swept the southern California area recently — as contributing to the tree collapsing, according to the statement. The police official added that there had been no other tree collapses reported lately, despite the wind and rain conditions.

The Whittier Police Department and L.A. County Fire Department were not immediately available for comment.

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