Seven Cars Crushed by 350-Year-Old Tree in California

August 31, 2018 Updated: August 31, 2018

A large chunk fell from a 350-year-old tree in California on Aug. 29, crushing seven vehicles.

The accident happened in Pleasant Hill on Wednesday night around midnight.

“It sounded like a home run hit with a wooden bat,” Audra Cudd-Wahle told KTVU.

The debris from the tree fell onto her property and the city told her it’s her responsibility to clean it up.

Cudd-Wahle’s red Chevy truck was one of the seven vehicles crushed by the tree.


Dave Wahle, Audra’s husband, told KPIX that his two work vehicles were crushed. One picture showed a pickup truck underneath a huge limb.

“These are my two work vehicles that I use,” said Wahle, a carpenter by trade. “It’s just devastating.”

“At first I thought it was an earthquake,” Marianna Rumpf, who lives across from the tree, added. “I thought there was a really bad accident.”

“I thought it was a big huge car crash,” Kate Bechtel, who lives about 50 yards away from the tree, told the San Jose Mercury News. “I heard a lot of smashing metal, and then a horn that went off and just wouldn’t stop.”

“My daughter came into my room in a state of panic,” added across-the-street neighbor Lisa Kumpf. “She heard the crash and the horn. We didn’t know what was happening.”

Tree Should Be Removed

The cause of the chunk falling has not been identified.

A plaque on the tree states that it is a “bicentennial heritage tree,” which means it’s protected by the city. Any tree that is 16 inches in diameter or larger is protected.

Arborists said that tree is a hazard to area residents and that more damage could be done in the future. But homeowners in the area told ABC 7 that they were told by the city they couldn’t trim the tree or chop it down without approval, because it’s protected.

Cudd-Wahle said she was granted permission to trim it once but was denied several other times.

However, Pleasant Hill’s maintenance supervisor, Mike Nielsen, told the broadcaster that it’s actually the homeowner’s responsibility as the tree is on their property.

Because an arborist told the family that the entire tree needs to be removed, Nielsen said the city will allow that but said the couple will have to pay for it with no help from the city.


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