California woman and dog crawl out of car smashed by falling tree

A woman and her dog crawled out of a sedan that was smashed by a huge tree that fell as they drove along a residential street in Valley Village, and she was taken to a hospital Sunday, Sept. 12.

The motorist was driving along Huston Street near Beck Avenue at about 11:40 a.m. when the tree apparently snapped near the base of its trunk, Los Angeles Police Lt. Dan Widman said. It landed directly on top of her vehicle as she was passing by.

“I was washing dishes, and saw the whole thing from my kitchen bay window,” nearby resident Sherry Ingraham said. “It just cracked and fell. It happened so fast.”

Sherry Ingrahm’s husband, Bradley Ingraham, was among six to eight people who rushed outside to check on the driver. He said the motorist was unresponsive for several minutes. But the woman eventually came to, and crawled out of the car with the help of good Samaritans.

The tree appeared to have fallen onto of the front seats of a gray Chevrolet Equinox with a crumpled roof, photos from the scene showed. It was about 30 feet tall, and completely blocked Huston Street as it laid on top of the car, Ingraham said.

“It’s a miracle she wasn’t killed,” Bradley Ingraham said. “If things happened just a tiny bit differently, this could have been fatal.”

The tree also landed on two vehicles parked across the street. That may have slightly cushioned its fall and prevented it from completely flattening the sedan and its occupants, Sherry and Bradley Ingraham said.

The driver suffered “traumatic injuries,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said. She was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and is expected to recover, Widman said.

“Her dog and the front of her were all covered in blood when they helped her out of there,” Sherry Ingraham said.

The dog was a Chihuahua that was not seriously hurt during the ordeal, Sherry Ingraham said. It was left in the care of a couple who live across the street from the downed tree, who happen to be a medical professional at Cedars-Sinai.

The car did not strike the tree, and it was not immediately clear why it fell, Widman said. It remained in the street as of 2:30 p.m., but crews were working to remove it Sunday afternoon.

The tree is one of several in the area that have been leaning precariously over the street for almost 30 years, Sherry and Bradley Ingraham said. Its roots had lifted and warped the sidewalk around it, and a branch that fell from it had damaged one of the Ingrahams’ cars several years ago.

“Everyone who lives here is always worried about one of these things coming down and killing them,” Bradley Ingraham said.