Arborist to investigate what caused large tree to fall on California wedding party

A Southern California park has closed indefinitely after an 80-foot eucalyptus tree fell on a wedding party taking photographs, killing one and injuring seven others Saturday.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Whittier’s Penn Park will be closed for an indefinite amount of time until an arborist can explain why the tree fell. Mayor Joe Vinatieri said the tree was at least 50 years old.

City Manager Jeff Collier said investigators will also inspect other trees to make sure none are at risk of falling.

The paper reported that fire officials believe recent rainfall combined with California’s drought may have been a factor in the tree toppling over.

“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.

Up to 20 people were trapped under the tree after it fell at around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, fire officials told KTTV. Video from the scene showed fire crews using chain saws to cut through the downed branches. Witnesses described hearing a loud crack, and seeing people run from the area.

One of the victims was a 4-year-old girl. She remains in critical condition due to head trauma. Vinatieri said the girl’s mother was the lone death so far. The mother wasn’t identified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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