SAN JOSE, Calif., - A mother who was killed by a falling tree while hiking with her son and his Boy Scouts troop on Sunday has been identified.
Vidyut Nautiyal, 44, and a resident of San Jose, was hiking on what’s commonly referred to as the "PG&E Trail" in Cupertino's Rancho San Antonio Park with her 17-year-old son and his Boy Scout troop when a tree unexpectedly fell.
"I witnessed an unfortunate incident, and I was trying to help," witness Surya, told KTVU on Sunday.
Witnesses said the tree fell without warning and that the mother hesitated to make sure her son was safe.
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"We were trying to see if we could lift the log that was on her body. And see if we could lift it up a little bit, to see if she could breathe," said Surya. "We lifted it a little bit enough so that there was a clearance. And then we put a rock underneath so that it wasn’t touching the body. That was the best we could do."
Nautiyal was pronounced dead on the trail.
Her 17-year-old son refused to leave his mother’s side and instead stayed as rescuers arrived.
First responders had to use ATV's to reach Nautiyal, because the trail was muddy and hard to access.
The Silicon Valley-Monterey Bay Council of the Boy Scouts of America emailed a statement that read in part, "We are saddened to confirm one adult accidental fatality involving a tree. The deceased is the parent of a Scout, and they were participating in a planned hike at the Rancho San Antonio Park… All Scouts are safe and there were no additional injuries."
San Jose State University officials said Nautiyal graduated from that university in 2009 with a master’s degree in nutritional science.
Dr. Ashwini Wagle wrote in an email to KTVU, "We worked closely as I was the major advisor on her master’s project… Her untimely passing has shaken me quite a bit."
A LinkedIn post shows Nautiyal worked as a health, wellness and fitness professional.
Neighbors say the family is inconsolable, as members begin funeral preparations.
"They are going to walk through this path of loss and grief and tragedy and may have a great deal of anxiety, PTSD, and we need to walk with them as they journey through this process," said Santa Clara University psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante.
Plante's son is a former Scout who also hiked in Rancho San Antonio Park.
Park rangers are investigating what caused the tree to come down.