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Earthquake considered among causes in woman's death from fallen tree

September 17, 2011 |  7:46 am

An earthquake that rattled Orange County on Thursday is among the potential causes under investigation as officials try to determine why a 10-ton tree fell on a woman's car and killed her while she waited at a stop light.

But officials stressed its one of many theories being looked at and that it's far too early to determine a cause. Other possible causes include moist soil and trimmed roots. Violinist Haeyoon Miller, 29, died in the incident at 17th Street and Irvine Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

A magnitude 3.5 earthquake that took place off Newport Beach about 2:56 a.m. Thursday may have played a role, though there easily could have been other contributing factors, according to Lisa Grant Ludwig, a UC Irvine seismologist.

"[That's a] good indication right there that that location was shaken relatively strongly," she told the Daily Pilot. "It's possible."

But soil conditions, whether the ground was wet or slanted, and the health of the tree, are all potential factors that could have felled the 50-foot blue gum eucalyptus, she said. The city of Newport Beach, which has a contract with the city of Costa Mesa to maintain the trees near the cities' shared borders, said in a statement that the city is investigating what felled the tree.

The tree showed no signs of illness, according to the city.


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-- Lauren Williams, Times Community News

Photo: Observers pay their respects Friday at the scene where, a day before, driver Haeyoon Miller, 29, of Tustin, was crushed by a eucalyptus tree. Credit: Kevin Chang / Times Community News