Witnesses recall deadly tree fall at wedding in Southern California park

WHITTIER, Calif. -- Witnesses who watched a tree crash down on a wedding party at a popular park in Southern California spoke out on Sunday.

Penn Park was still closed as the city investigated what caused the deadly accident.

Leslie and Ashley Pina returned to the park with their father and recalled the horror of watching a tree land on a wedding party.

"I thought it was fireworks or something, but once I heard my brother say 'the tree,' I saw the tree -- it was falling down," said Ashley.

The family was attending a birthday party in the busy park when the large eucalyptus tree fell, pinning several victims under its trunk and branches.

"The tree fell, people were running towards over there, and I guess the branches caught them. All the family members were coming over here, and I guess my dad saw the groom. My dad pulled him out of the branches," explained Leslie.

One woman was killed and a 4-year-old girl was hospitalized in critical condition after suffering a head injury.

"My cousin, she saw the little girl, and my cousin tried to pull her out but the branches were grabbing her, but then my cousin, she got her," Ashley shared.

People taking part in the wedding celebration were posing for photos when the tree fell.

Whittier officials said an arborist will be brought to the park to try and determine what happened.

"We have a regular tree maintenance program and we have a certified arborist on our staff that are managing our parks and our street trees. But at this point, we want to make sure we determine what caused this tree to go over," explained Jeff Collier, the city manager of Whittier.
Copyright © 2021 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.