The tree that killed the 28-year-old hiker was one of five that suddenly toppled in the wet park, reported CBS News affiliate KPIX-TV.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office identified the hiker as Subhradeep Dutta, who was walking along a dirt path with two other people when he was pinned by the 200-foot tree late Tuesday afternoon in what a park official called a “very rare” accident. The trunk of the tree that crushed Dutta measured four feet in diameter, The Associated Press reported.
Dutta suffered traumatic injuries and was declared dead at the scene. He had been hiking with his sister, identified by NBC TV as Swagata Duthu, and her boyfriend, whom he was visiting for the holidays. Duthu told NBC that the three hikers scrambled to get out of the way as the tree came crashing down in seconds.
Duthu said she spotted “his shoe, my brother, and I noticed something was very wrong.” She described her bother as happy and cheerful. “We just happened to be at the wrong time at the wrong place.”
Heavy rainstorms have pelted the area in recent weeks, softening the earth around the roots of the park’s towering redwoods.
“These were visitors exactly where they are allowed to be,” National Park Service spokesman Charles Strickfaden told KPIX. “It just seems to be an unfortunate, tragic event.”
Strickfaden called it a “very rare ... isolated event that may have occurred due to wet ground from recent winter storms, around the roots of the tree. The National Park Service extends its thoughts and prayers to all those involved.”
The park located some 15 miles north of San Francisco is extremely popular and draws some 1.2 million visitors each year.