Public donates more than $200,000 to five children left orphaned after redwoods tree fall killed their parents

Family friend says offspring will have ‘lifetime of expenses’ as ‘their lives will forever be changed’

James Crump
Wednesday 31 March 2021 18:46
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Massive redwood tree falls and kills hiker in California park

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A fundraiser for five children whose parents were killed by a falling redwood tree last week has raised more than $200,000 (£145,131) in just five days.

Jessica and Jake Woodruff, who were parents of five children, were travelling to the coast in Northern California from their home in the small town of Yreka last Thursday to celebrate Ms Woodruff’s 45th birthday when the incident occurred.

The couple were driving near to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park during the trip when a 175-foot-tall redwood tree fell on their car, killing them both when it completely flattened the vehicle’s roof. Their children were not in the car and did not travel with them on Thursday.

Following the tragic incident, a GoFundMe page was set up by family friend Amanda Maffei that by Wednesday afternoon had raised $245,534 (£178,160) from 3,400 donors.

“This was a shocking and unexpected event, and the tragedy of this accident makes it difficult to accept as real,” Ms Maffei wrote on the fundraiser page, which she set up on Friday to support the Woodruff’s five children.

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“We are asking that anyone who can support them, please do so, as these children are facing the devastating reality of what was just ripped from their lives in a split second.

“There is no getting around the devastation and trauma the loss of Jessica and Jake has brought, and as we can all imagine, there is a long road ahead, especially for the children who have been left behind,” the family friend said.

Ms Maffei added that the campaign was necessary as the five children are now facing “a lifetime of expenses” following the death of their parents.

California Highway Patrol are investigating the incident in an effort to establish what caused the tree to fall last week, with officer Brandy Gonzalez telling SFGate that “the timing of everything was very, very unusual”.

“We have trees everywhere. It’s in the middle of the redwoods. It’s just old growth and we have no idea why the tree fell. It was Mother Nature,” the officer said.

She added: “I’ve been on the department for 19 years and I’ve been in this area 12 to 13 years and it’s very unusual. We’ve had trees fall down and cars make contact, but this kind of incident is very unusual.”

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