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Falling tree crashes into car, narrowly misses Sonoma Valley driver

A huge section of an old oak tree crashed down onto a passing Audi in Eldridge Tuesday evening, smashing the roof and piercing the windshield inches from the driver’s seat, CHP and emergency officials reported Wednesday.

Driver Mark Feinberg, 52, of Santa Rosa wasn’t injured and was able to get out of his crumpled car, said CHP Officer Anna Paulson.

At about 5:50 p.m. Tuesday Feinberg was driving through the Sonoma Developmental Center in Sonoma Valley and was near a four-way stop at Arnold Drive and Holt when the tree broke apart.

One massive limb fell across the hood of his 2011 silver Audi A3, seriously damaging the front of the car. More of the tree came through the windshield, slicing into the area of the gear stick.

Eldridge and Glen Ellen firefighters responded and removed the fallen tree, which blocked the route in both directions. It was estimated to be as large as two-feet across in the trunk.

Calls left for a developmental center spokesman Wednesday weren’t returned. The center is a state-run facility for a current patient population of about 450 severely developmentally disabled patients and is Sonoma Valley’s largest employer with a staff of 1,400.

Heavy rainfall and wintertime storms often bring trees down onto and into homes and parked cars. Damage to moving vehicles is rare, but does occur, often with fatal consequences.

In May 2009, a 5-year-old Kenwood boy died when an old oak tree fell onto the family pickup as his father drove along Bennett Valley Road. The boy’s father was seriously injured.

Days later a Sebastopol couple suffered severe injuries when a tree fell in front of their car as they drove on Highway 101 near Asti.

In February 2004 falling redwood trees along Mark West Springs Road smashed into a passing pickup and killed a Clearlake man and his three dogs. And in March 2002 a Boyes Hot Springs woman died when a huge eucalyptus tree fell onto the roof of her car while she was on Arnold Drive.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi. rossmann@ pressdemocrat.com.


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