Sunday’s peaceful, non-stormy weather made it the ideal day for a boy scouts’ hiking trip in Rancho San Antonio County Park. No one expected the danger of falling trees.
While walking the Cupertino, California park with her son, their Sunnyvale Boy Scout troop and fellow parents, 44-year-old Vidyut Nautiyal of San Jose was crushed by a falling tree. No wind, rain, or storm was present at the time, making her loss a true freak accident alongside a shocking tragedy.
“I heard some screams and stuff. It was about 40, 50 feet away from me,” offers Surya, who declined to provide his last name to CBS Bay Area News. Like others present, Surya is a parent to a scout. Their troop was hiking the popular “PG&E Trail” (named for the prominent lines running above it) when the tree fell. He and fellow troop parents attempted to remove the tree from the mother’s body as soon as they realized what had happened.
“There were three people on my side and two people on the other side,” Surya recalls. “We were trying to think on our toes real quick and trying to see if we could lift the log that’s on her body, see if we could lift it up a little bit so she could breathe.”
It is unclear if Nautiyal died immediately upon impact.
“We tried lifting it. We lifted it a little bit, enough so that there was a clearance and we put a rock underneath so that it wasn’t touching the body,” Surya continues. “That was the best we could do.”
Hiking Tragedy Shocks Santa Clara Community
The 911 call came in at 10:01 AM Sunday, March 5. Santa Clara County fire department would respond.
“Our firefighters arrived and they were able to extricate the patient from under the tree and, after some life-saving efforts, they were unsuccessful. The patient has passed away,” Capt. Matt Mokhtarian, spokesman for the Santa Clara County Fire Department, tells CBS Bay Area.
Surya adds that the late Nautiyal’s son, a senior in high school, never left her side, frantically attempting to lift the tree. But it was too heavy to budge.
“It’s just really hard to imagine what had happened,” Surya laments.
“It’s just an unfortunate tragedy that you go out for a hike in a relatively calm morning and have this kind of thing happen,” adds chief ranger Matt Anderson.
Anderson is an overseer of Rancho San Antonio County Park where the tragedy took place. He and fellow officials note that soil in the region is saturated from California’s intense storms of the past two months. In such conditions, even a minor gust of wind can topple large trees.
Rancho San Antonio County Park reminds the public to be careful and watchful when hiking.