BRADENTON -- A spontaneous tree fall -- when all or part of a mature tree suddenly plummets to the ground without warning -- injured three people Monday afternoon in Bradenton.
It could have been much worse, officials said.
The victims of the spontaneous fall of a massive limb around 3:43 p.m. Monday at City Walk Condominiums, 2007 Fifth St. W. in Manatee County, escaped with non-life-threatening injuries, said Lt. Scott Kemp of Manatee County EMS.
"They were absolutely fortunate," Kemp said while the trio of victims were still waiting near the huge, fallen limb for two ambulances to arrive. "It could have been tragic. A spontaneous tree fall is a rare occurrence."
A group of people, including the three male victims, were chatting in the condominium parking lot when a limb high up on a nearby oak tree collapsed onto a small Honda. One man was already in the car while two others were standing next to it.
All were taken by ambulance to Manatee Memorial Hospital, Kemp said. He said he could not provide a more detailed injury report due to privacy concerns.
City Walk resident Nikol DeHaan was in the parking lot when the limb came crashing down. She said residents were able to free the man from the damaged car.
"I heard a rip, like a cloth ripping, and I screamed, but it happened so fast no one could move away in time," DeHaan said.
"The man in the car was squashed pretty good by the limb and we got him out of the car, and the others had scrapes to their hands and arms," DeHaan said.
"We heard cracking," said resident Kim Walker. "I started screaming. I was leaning on a van right near it."
In his many years of EMS service, Kemp said he can't recall a spontaneous tree limb fall without help from a storm or chain saw.
"Nothing gave the impression foul play was involved," Kemp said. "It's just one of those rare things that happen."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072. He can also be contacted via Twitter @ RichardDymond.