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Falling tree hits 4 people at Northwestern University's Evanston campus

Four faculty members hospitalized when tree falls on NU campus
Four faculty members hospitalized when tree falls on NU campus 02:04

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) – Four faculty members were hit by a falling tree on Northwestern University's campus in Evanston on Thursday.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, barricades were up and crews were working to remove the tree late Thursday afternoon. It fell right in front of the Donald P. Jacobs Center, a Kellogg School of Management building at 2001 Sheridan Rd. on campus.

"I did not think the trees over here were unstable," said Northwestern student Walter Douglas. "I thought they were kind of rooted really firmly into the ground."

The massive tree came crashing down around noon. The Evanston Fire Department said first-arriving companies responded within minutes and found multiple patients lying on the ground alongside the tree.

The people hit by the tree were all Northwestern faculty members. One was treated on campus and did not go to the hospital, but three were taken by ambulance to NorthShore University HealthSystem Evanston Hospital.

At least one was in critical condition.

"As I'm looking closer to it, I can see some blood on the ground - so I know some people did get hurt," Douglas said.

The path where the tree toppled over in front of the Jacobs building along Sheridan Road is a main route for students.

"I would have been walking past here as if nothing would have happened - or nothing could have happened to me," said Douglas, "but obviously, now I know I need to be paying more attention when walking to class."

"I saw some pictures and I got a little more worried about what was going on," added student Patrick Scerepella. "That's pretty unlucky, honestly."

Tree falls on Northwestern University campus, injuring four staff members 01:38

Barricades shut down the sidewalk for hours, as crews were called in to remove the tree. Power lines were also damaged.

Meanwhile, Matt Smith, a division chief with the Evanston Fire Department, said at the scene the tree likely fell because of the weather conditions.

"The snow, ice, wind combination contributed most likely to the falling of a fairly large tree that resulted in injuries to the victims here today," he said.

"I woke up today and I saw the snow, and in my head, I'm like: 'We live in Chicago. This is supposed to be normal,'" Douglas said. "So I never thought it would have been that much to bring down a tree in that manner; to cause this much damage and to hurt those people."

Northwestern said it is working with an arborist to determine what caused the tree to fall and if other trees in the area are potentially compromised.

Crews were also called in to assess and fix damage to nearby power lines.

"Our thoughts are with the members of our community who were injured, as we await updates on their conditions," the university said.

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