A married couple, who have five children, tragically died after a redwood tree fell on top of their car as they were driving for a weekend getaway.
Jessica and Jake Woodruff were driving on Thursday down Route 199 toward the coast in Northern California when the 175-foot-tall tree crashed down on their 2016 Honda Accord.
Jake, 36, was driving Jessica up the coast to celebrate her 45th birthday, an annual tradition for the couple, who live in Yreka with their children.
‘This was a shocking and unexpected event, and the tragedy of this accident makes it difficult to accept as real,’ family friend Amanda Maffei wrote on a GoFundMe campaign to support the couple’s five children.
Jessica and Jake Woodruff were driving on Thursday down Route 199 toward the coast in Northern California when the 175-foot-tall tree crashed down on their 2016 Honda Accord
The happily married couple, seen at their wedding, made an annual trip up the coast to celebrate Jessica’s birthday
Their five children Megan, Evan, Casey, Allie, and Chelsea (together above) are now orphans after the horrible accident
Jake and Jessica are survived by their children (above), Megan, Evan, Casey, Allie, and Chelsea
‘We are asking that anyone who can support them, please do so, as these children are facing the devastating reality of what was just ripped from their lives in a split second,’ wrote Maffei.
‘Those of you who know this family, know how tight-knit they are, and their lives will forever be changed,’ she added.
Officials say it was a pleasant day with no wind, calling the odds of a tree falling directly on a car astronomical.
‘We have trees everywhere. It’s in the middle of the redwoods. It’s just old growth and we have no idea why the tree fell. It was Mother Nature,’ California Highway Patrol Officer Brandy Gonzalez told SFGate.
‘The timing of everything was very, very unusual,’ she added.
Friends and family were devastated by the death of Jessica (left) and Jake, and worried about the impact on their kids (right)
The couple’s two eldest children are seen above. Officials call the accident ‘very unusual’
Officials say it was a pleasant day with no wind, calling the odds of a tree falling directly on a car astronomical
The aftermath of the accident is seen. The couple were driving up the coast to celebrate Jessica’s 45th birthday, an annual tradition for the couple, who live in Yreka with their children
‘I’ve been on the department for 19 years and I’ve been in this area 12 to 13 years and it’s very unusual. We’ve had trees fall down and cars make contact, but this kind of incident is very unusual,’ Gonzalez said.
Jake and Jessica are survived by their children, Megan, Evan, Casey, Allie, and Chelsea.
The GoFundMe campaign for the family had raised more than $140,000 by Monday.
‘There is no getting around the devastation and trauma the loss of Jessica and Jake has brought, and as we can all imagine, there is a long road ahead, especially for the children who have been left behind,’ Maffei wrote on the GoFundMe page.
The fatal tree fell across Route 199 where it passes through the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Conditions at the scene were ‘clear and dry’ when the accident occurred just before noon
The fatal incident occurred in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, which preserves old-growth redwoods along the Smith River.
The part is located along U.S. Route 199 approximately nine miles east of Crescent City.
The park is named after 19th century explorer Jedediah Smith, the first U.S. citizen to cross the Mojave Desert to enter what is now California.
Fatal treefalls on moving vehicles are rare, but have occurred in the past. In 2014, 22-year-old California woman Kenneisha Hawkins-Dale was was traveling back from visiting her husband and brother at a state prison in Vacaville when a massive eucalyptus tree collapsed over Interstate 80, killing her instantly.