Yesterday at 2 PM (at 17th Street and Irvine Avenue in Costa Mesa) a woman in a metallic blue 2002 Hyundai Accent GS waits for a stop light to turn green. Unexpectedly, a 50 foot eucalyptus tree, next to her on the medium, comes tumbling down. The tree crashes down on the Hyundai right in its center, violently crushing the car and killing a woman occupant.
The precise nature of this ‘freak accident’ is ineffable at this juncture. Its manifest peculiarity has been confirmed by an arborist Eric Gorsuch. “Without having seen it I couldn’t say, but trees generally don’t fall over when their roots can hold them up.”
An inexplicable accident; a best way to put it. A recent earthquake? Entangled roots?
Several theories are postulated in news accounts. Here’s another. Perhaps it wasn’t planted properly by the city (Costa Mesa) in the first place? In any case, it will be hard to determine why the eucalyptus tree fell, since it has been cut to pieces by the rescue workers. *(A reconstruction of this aberration is unlikely.)
And then yet another controversy pops up when we trace the sequence of events, up to the point when the Newport Beach Fire Department removed this nefarious one off tree. In order to understand this conundrum, you will have to follow the chronological sequence of news stories published, regarding the falling eucalyptus tree debacle.
A most recent article in the Los Angeles Times (Woman is killed when tree topples on car) attempts to reconcile inconsistencies in eye-witness accounts. I’m not entirely satisfied the LA Times has straightened it out, but a good amount of it is compelling. The notion of a cover-up occurring is utterly fallacious. But (you must realize), one person will see one set of evidence, an another an entirely different set of facts.
An early witness on the scene, possibly the best witness, is 16-year-old MacKenzie Soylular. She started filming the accident on her cell phone just a few minutes after it happened. The saddest angle to this apologue of angst is that Haeyoon Miller was conscious and talking when MacKenzie comes upon the scene.
The rub comes with the fact that the tree seems to fall (or settle is a better word) a second time. MacKenzie says that this ‘second fall’ crushed the vehicle considerably more. The LA Times says it smashed down on the Hyundai 4 to 6 inches more. Okay, so they use the word ‘resettled.’ An apropos euphemism, if you get my drift.
So we’re splitting hairs, but it matters. The LA Times also points out that Haeyoon Miller wasn’t further injured when the eucalyptus tree resettles. This is believable. Really, the firefighters were just securing it until a crane could arrive, but it took more than an hour for the crane to get there. In the meantime, Haeyoon died.
The Newport Beach Fire Department is not at fault; actually, they did a great job. But a spokesperson, Jennifer Schultz, claimed the tree hadn’t fallen back down. This is wrong. I believe Ms. Soylular, who saw with her own eyes the second noticeable fall. Why did the tree fall? What happened when it did? Why was Haeyoon so lucid initially? How severe was the resettling? As more time goes by, the truth vanishes from our grasp.