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40-Foot Tree Limb Falls On Person At Elk Grove Summerfest

ELK GROVE (CBS13) - A 40-foot tree limb came crashing down onto a man at the Elk Grove Summerfest. He was rushed into emergency surgery.

It happened at the Elk Grove Park Saturday in a grove of oak trees.

"It's like getting struck by lightning. You can't really prevent it," said Scott Shipley, who was just 10 feet away when it happened.

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Shipley was in the crowd enjoying live music when the branch snapped.

"I hear a crack behind me and I turned around and there's a big old tree branch right on the ground with a gentleman laying next to it," he said. "He was just flat on his back, out cold."

Shipley was a medic in the Air Force and stabilized the victim until paramedics arrived.

"It's just ... it happens, you just hope nobody gets hurt," he said. "I just hope the gentleman is OK he took a pretty good smack."

The victim's daughter said her father had multiple injuries, but is expected to be OK and is now recovering from surgery.

"The limbs are breaking right in the middle because all of the water and they're just so brittle from the drought. We had all this rain last year, so it's the perfect storm for a limb to fail," said Steve Johnson, owner of Elk Grove Tree Service.

It happens more than you think. The drought and last year's rain are to blame.

"You have all this water coming up the limbs, filling up the canopy, causing it to be way down, and at some point either snaps or breaks," he said.

Another freak accident happened in Stockton last week. An Oak tree trunk exploded and sent debris across the yard and a branch through the wall of a house.

"I don't know if it was an earthquake or a train going by," said the homeowner.

Arborists say the trees are full of water.

"Heat is expanding them and causing them to split and the water is expanding inside the trunk causing them to split and break," Johnson said.

Worrisome limbs he says are usually horizontal. This particular limb was vertical.

"The trees, based on looking at them, they look kept up," he said while looking at the Oak trees in the park.

He added it's just another high hanging danger from Mother Nature.

"The brittleness of these trees, it's not just Elk Grove it's everywhere. It's just one of those things that come along and it's going to be really hard to control because you don't know when the next break is going to happen," he said.

Rope swings on trees are a bad idea too. A limb could easily snap and kill your loved ones.

He says it could take a year or two for the trees to gain back their strength.

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