A Surrey firefighter cleans up debris from Linda Simpson’s vehicle, as well as the tree that hit it. (Contributed photo)

Falling tree crushes front of SUV carrying Surrey woman, granddaughters

City confirms ‘failure’ has triggered risk assessment of Croydon Drive trees

A South Surrey woman is calling for a thorough examination of city trees along Croydon Drive, after one crashed onto her vehicle Tuesday afternoon.

“That needs to be done, this whole area,” Linda Simpson said Thursday, during a return visit to the scene.

Simpson estimates the tree that hit her Hyundai Tucson was at least 60 feet tall, with a trunk a good foot in diameter. It snapped with essentially no warning just before 4 p.m., slamming down on the front end of her vehicle as she drove south in the 3000-block of Croydon, towards her son’s home.

Her two young granddaughters were in the back seat.

“I saw it leaning,” Simpson said Thursday, recalling the seconds before impact. “I thought, that’s odd.

“I just braked right away and hoped it would fall in front of me. But it didn’t.”

The tree hit with such force that it crumpled the Hyundai’s front end and crushed its windshield, sending broken glass into Simpson’s face. One branch penetrated the radiator; others ripped pieces off the vehicle, scattering the debris across the road.

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Thursday afternoon, in addition to the cuts visible on her face, bruising to Simpson’s hands and arms was starting to show.

Fortunately, 10-year-old Chloe and seven-year-old Elise – the daughters of Peace Arch News sales rep Colin Simpson – were, aside from some seatbelt bruising, uninjured physically in the experience. Chloe told PAN she was focused on her phone at the time Simpson gave the alert that she had to hit the brakes. Elise, too, didn’t see the tree coming.

Chloe said when she looked up immediately after the crash, she saw the shattered windshield, and a wiper protruding into the car. Her Nana’s face was “bloody and dirty,” Chloe said.

“My legs were shaking,” said Elise, adding she can’t get “the boom” – the noise of the tree hitting the vehicle – out of her head.

Simpson has no doubt the close call is weighing on the sisters, and expects the experience will continue to sink in over the coming days.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon they said to me, ‘Nana, thank you very much for braking when you did – you saved our lives,’” Simpson said.

Simpson said she, too, is increasingly cognizant that things could have ended differently, particularly if the tree had landed on the Hyundai’s “moonroof” – a panoramic sunroof that extends from front to back.

“Life could’ve been just totally different after that,” she said.

She said she is thankful to all the “amazing” people who stopped to help, from the man who was driving behind her when it happened and called 911, to the young man who was first in line northbound and opened his vehicle to the family in the aftermath; as well, the emergency crews who responded.

And, she is thankful her new dog, Prince, a chihuahua-terrier rescue from California, was also unhurt.

In reporting the incident and her concerns to the city, Simpsons said she was told that her experience was the second such occurrence along that stretch of road, and that an assessment would be prioritized.

The news only strengthened her belief that all of the trees along that stretch of road need to be assessed.

“If that’s the second time that that’s happened, maybe somebody needs to take a look at it,” she said.

Friday afternoon, City of Surrey parks manager Neal Aven confirmed a “tree risk assessment is underway… to look at the site to review the tree failure.”

Trees along Croydon between 28 and 30 Avenues will all be assessed, he added, and any pruning or other work identified “will be scheduled for completion.”

Aven encouraged anyone with concerns about any of the city’s trees or parks to report those to the city’s call centre, at 604-501-5050, via email to parks@surrey.ca or via the MySurrey app.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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All that remains of the tree that fell across Linda Simpson’s vehicle Tuesday afternoon. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Linda Simpson wants the City of Surrey to assess the safety of trees along South Surrey’s Croydon Drive after one fell across her vehicle Tuesday afternoon, as she was driving with her granddaughters Elise (left) and Chloe, and dog Prince. It smashed her windshield and caused significant damage to its front end. (Tracy Holmes photo)

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