8 children hurt, 2 critical, by falling tree in California

2015-07-29 11:08
Officials stand by a tree that fell near the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena, California. (Walt Mancini/The Pasadena Star-News via AP)

Officials stand by a tree that fell near the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena, California. (Walt Mancini/The Pasadena Star-News via AP)

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Pasadena - A huge, ancient pine tree uprooted and fell onto children at a summer day camp on Tuesday, injuring eight children, two of them critically, fire officials said.

The 22.5 meter tall, 75-year-old pine crashed without warning at around 17:00 just outside the Kidspace Children's Museum, city fire spokesperson Lisa Derderian said.

The tree is located in Pasadena's Brookside Park, just outside the museum grounds near the Rose Bowl.

"I heard a tree crack and then I turned around and I saw little kids running and then I saw the tree fall on top of the little kids, maybe about five or seven of them," Greg Prodigalidad told KABC-TV.

Cause of fall unknown

Tim Scheidler, the museum's marketing manager, said, "It was the end of the day, so there were people gathered outside who were leaving and there was a camp group waiting for pickup by their parents when the tree came down."

Museum staff, firefighters, parents and police quickly converged on the scene.

Prodigalidad said he and some parents rushed over and began pulling children free of the branches.

The Fire Department dispatched its urban search-and-rescue team to use power tools to cut apart the tree to ensure no one was trapped underneath.

Eight children, ranging from 6 to 8 years old, were injured. Derderian said six were treated at the scene for cuts, bumps and bruises and two were taken to a hospital in critical condition, although their conditions could change after doctors evaluate them.

All the children were alert and able to talk, she said.

All of the 33 day campers were accounted for and the museum planned to reopen as scheduled on Wednesday, Scheidler said.

It was unclear what made the pine topple on a warm, clear summer day with minimal winds.

California is in the midst of a severe drought, but it wasn't immediately known if that could have played any role.

"We are bringing out an independent arborist to investigate what could have caused this," Derderian said.

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