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Could an Earthquake Have Caused a 10-Ton Tree to Fall on Woman's Car?

Screenshot (ABC 7)
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Experts are still trying to figure out what would cause a tree to fall on a woman's car while she waited at a stoplight in Costa Mesa. One theory being floated to explain the tragic and freaky accident is that Thursday morning's 3.5 rattler might have loosened the tree.

The earthquake was centered off of the coast of Newport Beach around 3 a.m. Though it wasn't a major quake, about 380 people in Costa Mesa reported feeling the earthquake on the U.S. Geological Survey site.

"[That's a] good indication right there that that location was shaken relatively strongly," Lisa Grant Ludwig, a UC Irvine seismologist told The Daily Pilot. "It's possible."

The tree fell in the early afternoon as Haeyoon Miller, 29, waited at a stoplight. She was on her lunch break from her job as an executive assistant at a mortgage firm, according to The Daily Pilot.

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Ludwig said that even if the earthquake was a cause there were likely other factors: soil conditions, whether the ground was wet or slanted and the health of the tree.

Eucalyptus trees will shed bark and branches but they don't typically just topple over, Laura Lyons, nursery manager at the UC Irvine arboretum, told The Daily Pilot. The city of Newport Beach, which maintains some of Costa Mesa's trees near the border of the city is investigating the incident.