Water weight, poor roots factors in tree that fell on children in Pasadena

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- An arborist hired by the city of Pasadena concluded that a slight lean, added weight from recent rains and a lack of anchoring roots caused a large pine tree to fall and injure eight children in mid-July.

The city hired an independent arborist after a 75-foot-tall, 75-year-old tree cracked and fell on several children who had just been let out of a summer day camp at the Kidspace Children's Museum.

Six children suffered only minor injuries, but two suffered blunt-force trauma and were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in critical condition.

After investigating the tree, the arborist determined that a lack of anchoring roots, a slight lean to the east and the recent drought conditions were factors in the Italian stone pine cracking and falling.

Heavy rains added a substantial amount of weight to the tree, which also contributed to the fall, according to the seven-page investigation report.

"The Italian stone pine probably could not release water as quickly as it was taking water in, causing a substantial increase in weight throughout the tree," the report noted.
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