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Parents of five killed when tree falls on car during birthday trip

The California Highway Patrol said a redwood fell on the couple's 2016 Honda, "completely crushing the passenger compartment."
Redwood trees stand in the southern grove of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.Jessica Christian / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
/ Source: NBC News

The parents of five children were killed when a 175-foot-tall redwood tree fell onto their car, police in California said.

The accident happened Thursday when Jake Woodruff and his wife, Jessica Woodruff, were traveling southbound on Highway 199 near Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Del Norte County. The California Highway Patrol said that a redwood fell on the couple's 2016 Honda, "completely crushing the passenger compartment."

Jake, 36, and Jessica, 45, suffered fatal injuries and died, an incident report stated.

According to a GoFundMe fundraising page, the husband and wife were on an annual trip up the coast to celebrate Jessica's birthday. They leave behind five children: Megan, Evan, Casey, Allie and Chelsea.

"This was a shocking and unexpected event, and the tragedy of this accident makes it difficult to accept as real," the GoFundMe states. "These 5 children are now left without parents and are facing a lifetime of expenses."

As of Wednesday morning, the GoFundMe page had raised more than $238,000.

Amanda Maffei, Jessica's cousin, told the local ABC affiliate that the couple had been married for nearly 13 years. Their children range in age from 8 to 24 years old, according to KDRV-TV. Maffei said the family started a GoFundMe because the older children now have the responsibility of caring for the younger ones.

“I think that they're going to find strength within each other," she said. "They're going to look out for each other and, you know, just the generosity of so many different communities and the support that they've received. I'm hoping that they find strength in that as well.”

The California Highway Patrol said the crash remains under investigation.

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