Woman struck, injured by tree branch blames city of San Diego
Lorin Toeppe files claim against city
Last Updated: 64 days ago
SAN DIEGO - A woman severely injured after a tree branch fell on her this summer filed a claim against the city Thursday.
Lorin Toeppe loved volleyball and her job as a physical therapist's assistant, but at 31 years old she is bandaged up from head to toe because of a freak accident.
In July, Toeppe and her boyfriend were walking along a bike path at De Anza Cove when the branch fell on her.
"The last thing I remember is hearing a crack," Toeppe said.
A crowed gathered around, and in video obtained by 10News, someone is heard yelling, "Somebody in there? Somebody in there? Oh my God!"
Several people nearby helped Toeppe out from under the tree.
"I fractured five bones in my face," she said. "Right now, I'm giving myself IV antibiotics three times a day. I fractured my spine in two places."
No one denies it happened at the hand of Mother Nature, but Toeppe said people could have prevented it by maintaining trees. Toeppe is blaming the city of San Diego, and she is not the first one.
Michael Burke, a local attorney, can empathize with Toeppe.
"We still have an issue in San Diego as to tree maintenance, and this is the inevitable consequence," Burke said.
He took a crippling blow when a queen palm came crashing down on him in 2010. When he came to, he learned he was paralyzed and would never walk again. He sued the city and won $7.6 million.
"If the city got the message, she wouldn't be here," he added.
Bill Harris, spokesman for the city of San Diego Park & Recreation Department, issued this statement:
"The claim filed today will be thoroughly investigated by the City's Risk Management Department as are all claims filed against the City.
The incident documented in this claim involves an unfortunate and highly unusual event. The City maintains thousands and thousands of trees both along City streets and throughout its large network of parks and open space areas. Both City staff and outside contractors are assigned to address any issues regarding health, safety and emergencies related to City trees. The current claim is a serious matter that the City will address it with all due diligence. We remain confident that this unfortunate incident is an isolated and highly unusual event and does not reflect any broader condition for City trees."
"That's sad. That's sad because I don't want this to happen to someone else," Toeppe added. "I don't think it's fair."
She fears it could happen to an elderly person or a child, "someone who can't handle this," she said.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.