Wind topples trees in Sonoma County

Juan Acevedo picked up a chain saw and helped cut up a fallen oak tree on Monday. He didn't mind.

 The 75 foot tree might have killed him. 

"When I heard the root crack I turned around and ran," said Acevedo, at home on Riverside Drive, blocked by the huge tree for two days. 

It toppled at the 10-unit apartment complex where Acevedo lives and provides maintenance. 

About 10:30 a.m. Sunday, amid strong wind gusts, the tree came down on his two utility vans, parked side by side. 

He was about a dozen feet away.     

"I'm standing here talking and I see a shadow, and I turn it around and see it coming," said Acevedo, "and I ran screaming."

He was immediately alarmed about power lines and the safety of his neighbors. 

"You come out in the moring after a windy night, and there are branches everywhere," said resident Donna Martinez, surveying the gaping hole in the ground where the oak uprooted. 

Broken tree limbs aren't unusual, but no one could remember a tree this big coming loose. 

"I'm not surprised though," said Martinez, "because they were supposed to come and pull this tree out or cut it down sometime this month."  

The tree also plunged through the roof of a neighboring house on Lucas Avenue, where Miki Perez lives with his wife and 6 year old daughter. 

"We heard a boom like a bomb," said Perez, who was with his family in the front of the house, when the tree hit the rear. 

The home is yellow-tagged for inspections, so the family is staying with relatives.

They are grateful their little girl wasn't directly under the falling tree, at a desk she often uses.

The oak was also slowed by bouncing off another tree. 

"The one falling hit my tree first and then my house," said Perez, "and if we hadn't had that tree, probably a different story."  

Owners of the apartment complex had to remove the tree themselves, since it was on private property. 

"No one was walking by, no one was driving by, and no one was in that bedroom," said Katy Bragg, whose father is the owner. 

As relieved as she is that no one was hurt, Bragg sympathizes with Acevedo, who will rely on his insurance to replace the vans he needs for his handyman business. 

"The sad part is, our property management doesn't cover the vehicles on the property," said Bragg, "and so he has to figure something out with that." 

But Acevedo isn't complaining. 

When the tree toppled, he and a friend were outside talking about crawling underneath one of the vans to work on the transmission. 

They were inclined, because of the wind, to not jack the vehicle up, and postpone the repairs instead. 

Considering how they might have been trapped or killed, Acevedo bought Lotto tickets Monday,at the urging of his children and grandchildren. 

"This is my lucky day, so I said okay, I'll buy lottery tickets, I never get one number, but we'll see now what happens," smiled Acevedo.