A Southern California park remains closed after an 80-foot tree fell on a wedding party while they were taking photographs Saturday, reportedly killing the mother of the bride and injuring seven others.
An arborist is reportedly investigating what caused the tree to fall, but initial reports suggest a recent drought may be to blame.
“We’ve seen this happen throughout Southern California with both the drought conditions — trees are stressed — and we did have a large amount of rain,” Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp said.
On Saturday afternoon, the wedding group was in Whittier Penn Park at about 4:30 p.m. when the tree fell, leaving a 4-year-old girl in critical condition with severe head trauma and the mother of the bride dead.
According to reports, the woman was seen on the ground as rescuers tried to revive her.
Witnesses also described hearing a loud crack and then seeing several people running from the area, including many children.
Witness Gilbert Duran said in a Facebook live video that he helped pull the mother out from underneath the tree.
Duran and his friends had reportedly been under the same tree taking pictures for a birthday party just minutes before the accident.
“She wasn’t breathing,” Duran said in the video.
Firefighters reportedly used chainsaws to cut away at branches and rescue those who had been trapped.
Police have not yet officially identified the woman who died.
“The mother lost her life. A 4-year-old is injured. How do you explain it? You can’t,” Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri said told the Los Angeles Times. “The tragedy of the situation is on the hearts and minds of many people. We need to pray for the family because of the injuries and losing someone on a day that’s supposed to be a great celebration.”