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Large tree branch near Event Center crashes into car

Driver escapes serious injury; eucalyptus trees to be removed

By Mike Wood

Staff writer

(Monday, July 17): A female driver escaped serious injury on Monday when a large eucalyptus tree branch suddenly broke and crashed through her front windshield while she was driving down Stanley Dollar Drive at approximately 11 a.m.

The woman, a physical therapist, was driving a white health care company sedan toward Rossmoor Parkway when a branch from one of five eucalyptus trees not far from a rear corner of the Event Center broke away from near the tree’s top. The car’s dashboard collapsed after the branch, which appeared to be nearly a foot in diameter, hit the windshield close to dead center, causing airbags to deploy.

Though noticeably shaken, the driver was walking and able to help move supplies out of the damaged vehicle. A second vehicle, a black Ford SUV, also sustained some damage.

Emergency responders are seen at the location where a large eucalyptus tree branch crashed into a passing vehicle on Stanley Dollar Drive.

The trees, situated within 10 to 15 feet of the Dollar edge of a walking pathway that goes through Dollar Ranch Golf Course, are going to be taken down, GRF officials at the scene said. Waraner Bros. Tree Service arrived on scene about 11:35 a.m. to start clearing the branches and debris.

Residents are advised to avoid the area while the trees are being removed. Stanley Dollar Drive will remain closed this afternoon between the Event Center and Tice Creek Drive. More closures are expected in that area on Tuesday. The golf courses, Creekside Grill and Event Center parking lots remain open, though entry must be from Rossmoor Parkway.

The incident was not far from where a huge eucalyptus tree near the Event Center driveway fell during a massive wind and rainstorm event the night of March 21, killing resident Tom Huster, who was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his wife.

In Monday’s incident, there was a slight breeze, but this appeared to be caused by what’s called Sudden Branch Drop syndrome, new Mutual Operations Director Jeroen Wright said. A weekend of nearly 100-degree temperatures affected the tree’s release of moisture, he explained.

Golfers who were on the driving range getting ready for a charity golf tournament were among those who responded quickly to the incident, tournament organizers said.

“Nobody expected this,” said Umit Dikmen, a Rossmoor renter who was traveling on Dollar toward Tice Creek Drive when the accident occurred. “This just came down all of a sudden. It made a loud crash.”