Pleasanton family escapes falling 100-foot tree that broke through windows, roof during storm

"The second I walked to the front of the house to go look at the front, that's when I heard my wife scream, 'It's coming down!'"

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Bay Area family escapes falling tree that broke through windows, roof
A Pleasanton family is dealing with the aftermath after a 100-foot-tree falls on their home as winds picked up on a stormy night.

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- During the past week's storms, trees falling onto homes has been a huge concern around the Bay Area. Last week, a falling tree killed a child in Sonoma County. On Saturday, a tree crashed through a home in Castro Valley, pinning a man to his couch.

On Sunday, crews worked to remove a 100-foot tree that fell on Gary Vennarucci's house.

"Honestly, it was by the Grace of God that we got out of our house alive. I think my father-in-law is watching over us. He recently passed away from lung cancer. And he was always concerned for our safety with the trees around our house," says an emotional Vennarucci.

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The aunt of 2-year-old Aeon, nicknamed Goldie, says he was an infectiously happy child, loved to dance, and always knew how to put a smile on the faces of his loving family. Click for a link to the family's GoFundMe.

As he explains, it happened fast - all within 20 minutes. The winds started to pick up around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday. He went out front to see if everything was okay.

"The second I walked to the front of the house to go look at the front, that's when I heard my wife scream, 'It's coming down!' She went to our sons room and covered him. And then I went and grabbed my daughter, taking a knee, to make sure it wasn't on my head," he says.

His photos captured the aftermath: branches broke through the windows and though the roof. He says the right side of his house is totaled.

"Called 911. Pleasanton Fire showed up and they let us know that the house was not structural sound any more. Turn off the electricity. Shut off the gas. And evacuate as soon as possible due to the amount of weight on the roof," Vennarucci says.

VIDEO: First responders rescue Castro Valley man pinned under eucalyptus tree that crashed through house

Tense moments in Castro Valley as neighbors watched firefighters rescue a man pinned under a massive eucalyptus tree that fell into his house.

Victor Ghavamzadeh owns East Bay Tree Service, which came out to clear the tree. He says his crew has been busy with storm clean up. He says the ground is saturated, so roots aren't holding. With more rain this week, he expects it could get worse.

"We have had an unprecedented amount of rain, so the ground is so saturated, everything is just topping over now. So, a lot of these trees that are older and mature, that have survived for a long time, have never seen rain like this before," says Ghavamzadeh.

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Parts of Highway 101 south of Gilroy is closed following a major storm that swept through the Bay Area, police said. SKY7 video shows the storm's impact as homes and highways are flooded.

Vennarucci says these are heritage trees, so by law, they are limited with what they do to them.

But once the tree is cleared, there is another big issue the family faces. They have to tarp the roof to prevent flooding from the coming rain, which is likely to begin Sunday night.

"There (are) multiple holes in the roof, coming through the ceiling. Plus other areas of the roof has holes. The rain water was coming in, and that's the number one concern right now," says Vennarucci.

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