A 49-year-old California man died yesterday while waiting for a ride to his uncle's funeral, according to family members. Tony Calderon was waiting streetside in an unincorporated part of East Los Angeles when a palm tree's 2,000-pound crown became detached and fell on top of him, initially trapping but not killing him. Bystanders responded to his screams for help, but were unable to budge the tree top, which firefighters eventually had to remove using a crane. It took responders nearly two hours to get to the body, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Though an arborist tells NBC Los Angeles that the Canary Island Date Palm didn't appear outwardly troubled—"It had a lot of live fronds. That's how palms can fool you"—Calderon's family members say that the owner of the property that housed the palm has ignored repeated requests to take it down. "It's been going on for 15 years already and it wasn't taken care of," says Calderon's brother. County officials say that because the tree was located on private property, it wasn't their responsibility. Says the mother of the homeowner, "I've always worried about those trees but I don't have the money to cut them down." (In April, a boy was killed hours after his father's funeral in Pennsylvania.)