Massive redwood tree falls, kills hiker in California park

National

FILE – In this March 25, 2008 file photo visitors walk along a pathway near the entrance to the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, Calif. Authorities say a Redwood tree fell and fatally struck a man visiting Muir Woods National Monument Park on Christmas Eve Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg,File)

MUIR WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT PARK, Calif. (AP) — A huge redwood tree fell and killed a man visiting Muir Woods National Monument in California on Christmas Eve, authorities said Thursday.

Subhradeep Dutta, 28, of Edina, Minnesota, died while walking on a marked dirt trail with two other people in the park north of San Francisco famous for its towering trees, according to the Marin County coroner’s office and a spokesman for the park.

Dutta was pinned by the trunk of the 200-foot-tall (61-meter-tall) tree and died at the scene. The trunk measured more than 4 feet (1 meter) in diameter.

A woman injured by falling debris was taken to the hospital. A man hiking with the group escaped injury.

Dutta described himself on social media as a software engineer who enjoys traveling and taking occasional hikes. On his Facebook page, he posted photos of himself visiting natural wonders in the U.S., including Rocky Mountain National Park and the Grand Canyon.

The tree that killed Dutta fell close to sunset, when the park was about to close. Alex Shepard told KPIX-TVthat he and his mother were finishing their hike when they heard a “colossal noise” and saw the tree come down.

“I initially thought it was like an earthquake or something. I had no idea. I had never heard a sound like that,” Shepard said.

The tree fell following a series of winter storms over the past two weeks.

“This is a very rare and isolated event that may have occurred due to wet ground from recent winter storms, around the roots of the tree,” park spokesman Charles Strickfaden said in an email.

Redwood trees have shallow root systems that extend over 100 feet from the base. They thrive in moist, coastal climates where their roots intertwine with the roots of other redwoods.

Almost a million visitors visit the park each year. It was open Thursday and only the areas affected by debris from the fallen tree were closed to the public.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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