An almost century-old tree branch fell and crushed two unoccupied vehicles parked on the southwest end of CSU’s historic Oval Friday afternoon.
Compressing a classic 1996 Jaguar and a Jeep, CSU Spokesperson Dell Rae Moellenberg called the occurrence “extremely rare” and tree experts said the fall was most likely related to the increase in recent rains, making the trees more susceptible to breaking.
“With the moisture and the amount of growth this year we’ve seen increased crown density,” said Scott Simonds, CSU arborist and horticultural supervisor, referring to the leafy area of plants. “When trees and shrubs get a lot of water, they like it and they grow.”
After investigation, it is believed there was a flaw or weakness in the approximately 87 to 89-year-old-tree that was accelerated by increased moisture this spring.
There was not an indication that the branch would fall, Simonds said, calling the incidence “act of God stuff” as “rare as the lightening striking the tree last (summer) in the Sherwood forest.”
The Facilities Management Outdoor Services Group inspects the dozens of historic trees, residents of the Oval as early as the 1880s, on an ongoing basis for possible hazards. They look for risk factors based on training by the International Society of Arboriculture, which develops methods for high-quality professional tree care.
The trees are regularly treated to prevent them from getting Dutch Elm Disease, which is transferred to the trees by the elm leaf beetles who carry it.
Carolyn Worden, owner of the Jaguar and a Student Financial Services employee, expected to find scratches on her newly detailed vehicle after receiving a phone call from the CSU Police Department. Upon arriving at the scene to find her roof “not four inches above the windowsill of the door,” Worden thanked the lord the branch fell just “minutes after (she locked the car).”
News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.