Man killed by giant tree in Seward Park was 42-year-old father of two

SEATTLE -- The man killed by a falling tree that crushed his car in Seward Park has been identified as Eric Medalle, 42, of Seattle.

Medalle, a father of two, was a member of the Columbia City community.

“It was a very large Douglas fir tree,” Seattle Parks & Recreation arborist Matt Stempley said.

When the giant tree crashed down on his car Sunday, Medalle didn`t stand a chance.

Underneath the flattened roof, rescue crews soon found a survivor, a little girl, in the back seat.

New pictures from inside Seward Park shortly after the height of the storm show a trail of destruction.

With so many overhanging branches and leaning trees, crews had to escort reporters inside to see the cleanup.

“I think what happened yesterday was very unpredictable,” Stempley said.

The city says there are no records of them inspecting the tree that killed Medalle. But even if they had, arborists say, the giant tree had no obvious signs of rot or damage.

“If we had done a risk assessment, the high wind and abnormal weather you really can’t predict for that,” Stempley said.

With 465 public parks across Seattle, the city says they usually do not shut down parks during storms, but employees do check for hazards on a daily basis and when they do spot a questionable tree, there are several things to consider before chopping it down.

“I know there are challenges with the individuals who do the service, whether to cut the trees down or let them live. I know it is a grey area,” Askia Heru said.

With several hundred thousand trees to maintain, the city has this word of advice for the public.

“If there is severe weather, stay out of the parks,” Stempley said.

The park closed on Sunday after the accident. Seward Park reopened for the public at around 3 p.m. Monday.