ANAHEIM, Calif. (Feb. 20, 2023) — Anaheim has recovered a fallen tree that tragically took the life of a woman in a vehicle at Pearson Park on Sunday and will begin the process of evaluating the tree this week.
The tree, a 60-foot bur oak, was cut into three large pieces Sunday night and moved to a city yard. A forensic arborist is expected to begin assessing the fallen tree this week.
On Sunday at about 2:50 p.m., the tree unexpectedly fell from the southern end of Pearson Park onto Cypress Street, just east of Harbor Boulevard.
Sadly, the tree landed on a parked Ford Explorer where a 62-year-old Anaheim woman was inside.
Maria De La Luz Cruz was pronounced immediately deceased upon arrival of Anaheim Fire & Rescue.
“My heart, and the heart of our city, goes out to the family and all impacted by Sunday’s tragedy at Pearson Park,” Anaheim Mayor Ashleigh Aitken said. “With sorrow and sympathy, our thoughts and prayers are with a family that has lost a loved one in this unthinkable time.”
The fallen tree was cut into sections from the base and trunk and removed from atop the vehicle to recover the deceased.
Those tree sections, along with land around where the tree stood at the park, will be what is analyzed over the next two weeks.
The tree’s overall health will be examined for structure, density, color, fungi or any other issues. An initial assessment by a licensed arborist on Sunday found no immediate concerns.
A forensic arborist will look at weather and overall conditions on Sunday and also explore whether there was any recent construction or changes to the area.
There has not been any recent construction in the area around the tree.
An analysis also will look at longer term weather, including recent rain, wind and our region’s extended drought.
The mature tree, estimated at more than 50 years old, was regularly maintained and was most recently trimmed in 2018 within its five-year trimming cycle.
As an oak, the tree is dormant during winter and can appear brown and inactive to untrained eyes this time of year. An initial assessment on Sunday found the tree to be a living, thriving tree.
In addition to regular maintenance, trees at Anaheim parks are inspected on a daily and weekly basis by parks staff looking for any issues of concerns.
Out of an abundance of caution, all trees at the park are currently undergoing inspection after Sunday's tree fall.
Pearson Park is Anaheim’s oldest park and opened in 1927.
The downtown park is 19 acres and includes an amphitheater, baseball stadium, softball fields, a pool, tennis courts and basketball court in memory of Kobe and Gigi Bryant.