Tree limb snaps, kills woman

Marilyn Rodriguez says she thought it was a gunshot she heard Monday morning as she walked her dog Benson in Stern Grove, but she quickly realized it was the cracking and collapsing of a branch.

In a freak accident, a woman was killed Monday when a 50-foot redwood tree branch fell upon her as she stood in the Sloat Boulevard parking lot of the heavily wooded park.

“A car alarm went off, and then I realized what I heard was a branch,” said Rodiguez, a Sunnyside resident.

The partial tree with protruding branches damaged the rear of the car, a Subaru Outback, and lay across the woman’s body.

The victim was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, but doctors pronounced her dead at 12:14 p.m., San Francisco police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said.

The broken piece of tree appeared to be “a portion of the top of the tree and had branches coming off of it,” San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Mindy Talmadge said, estimating it fell 30 feet.

“This big section of the tree broke, came down and hit — crushed her car,” Talmadge said.

The official cause of the break was unknown, but she said it “was very windy out.”

The woman’s three dogs — two labradors and a Chihuahua-corgi mix — were uninjured and cared for by Animal Care and Control before a family member retrieved them Monday, Capt. Vicky Guldbech of Animal Care and Control said.

This was not the first incident in Stern Grove. Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Dennis said a city employee conducting tree work there died during a storm in 1981.

“Trees here shed branches from time to time,” said John Rossi, who has lived near Stern Grove his entire life and was walking in the park Monday afternoon.

Rossi was surprised at the news of a fellow hiker’s death, but doesn’t feel unsafe walking in the grove.

“That’s too bad — like being struck by lightning,” he said. “It’s just really unlucky.”

Vehicle access to the park will be denied until Thursday or until the department has “assured people and ourselves that it was a fluke,” Dennis said. “There’s nothing wrong with Stern Grove, but we need to make sure we’ve done our due diligence,” she said.

dsmith@examiner.com

Examiner Staff Writer Beth Winegarner contributed to this report.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco plans to reopen the Upper Great Highway, which had been closed for recreational use during the COVID pandemic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco plans to reopen the Upper Great Highway, which had been closed for recreational use during the COVID pandemic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco plans to reopen the Upper Great Highway, which had been closed for recreational use during the COVID pandemic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Great Highway to reopen on weekdays, sparking renewed debate

The Upper Great Highway soon will reopen to vehicles for the first… Continue reading

Second grader Genesis Ulloa leads students in an after-school community hub in a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF parents face school year with hope, trepidation and concern

‘Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it’

A fire lookout with the U.S. Forest Service feeds a chipmunk in the Tahoe National Forest. California officials closed some popular trails and nature areas in South Lake Tahoe for the week after a dead chipmunk tested positive for the plague. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Yes, Lake Tahoe chipmunks have the plague. But don’t worry (too much)

By Johnny Diaz New York Times When California officials closed parts of… Continue reading

After nearly 15 years of being part of Google, the most successful money machine in internet history, it’s still not clear that YouTube has fulfilled its financial potential both for itself and everyone involved in its vast digital economy. (Dani Choi/The New York Times)
Is YouTube a success? It’s a serious question

By Shira Ovide New York Times This question will sound ridiculous, but… Continue reading

Most Read