Parents of 5 Killed When Giant Redwood Tree Falls on Their Car During Birthday Road Trip
Jessica Woodruff, 45, and Jake Woodruff, 36, leave behind five children: Megan, Evan, Casey, Allie, and Chelsea
A family is in mourning after the parents of five children were killed by a falling redwood tree in California.
Jessica Woodruff, 45, and Jake Woodruff, 36, were killed after a giant redwood tree fell on their car while they were driving along Route-199 during a road trip for Jessica's birthday last week, according to a GoFundMe set up by loved ones.
They leave behind five children: Megan, Evan, Casey, Allie, and Chelsea, the GoFundMe says.
"There is no getting around the devastation and trauma the loss of Jessica and Jake has brought, and as we can all imagine, there is a long road ahead, especially for the children who have been left behind," the page reads.
Family member Emma Miravalle Hood told Wild Rivers Outpost the two oldest children, from Jessica's prior relationship, "immediately stepped up to take on raising their [three] younger siblings."
"This family and these parents were such a humble, fun-loving pair that knew they were soulmates at the moment they met."
Police responded to the incident just before 12 p.m. in Del Norte County, Calif., on Thursday, the California Highway Patrol told SFGate.
Investigators told the outlet that the car was traveling southbound on the highway near Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park when the tree fell from the east side of the road onto their car.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, police said.
"This is a very forested area," Brandy Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the CHP office in Crescent City, told SFGate. "We have trees everywhere. It's in the middle of the redwoods. It's just old growth and we have no idea why the tree fell. It was Mother Nature."
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Gonzalez added that, while trees do fall occasionally, the fatal incident was extremely rare.
"The timing of everything was very, very unusual," she said. "I've been on the department for 19 years and I've been in this area 12 to 13 years and it's very unusual. We've had trees fall down and cars make contact, but this kind of incident is very unusual."
California Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.