Ukiah woman killed by fallen tree feared it for months

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


How to help

A GoFundMe account has been set up to Erika Tyler's family. To donate, go here.

Erika Tyler was in fear of the massive valley oak tree before she moved into the adjacent house in east Ukiah with her boyfriend and children in June.

Sometime between 4 and 5 a.m. Saturday, her fears were realized when the tree came crashing down, fatally crushing the 35-year-old mother of two. Her boyfriend, sleeping next to her, was able to escape, along with his 3-year old son. Tyler’s sons, 11 and 17, were not home at the time.

Tyler had asked their landlord to remove the tree, which had steel cables supporting some of its larger branches, but he told her it was too expensive, according to her mother, Connie Tyler, of Ukiah. With housing difficult to find in Ukiah, they moved in anyway, but the tree weighed heavily on her mind.

“They were scared of that tree all the time,” Connie Tyler said. She said her daughter mentioned the tree to her at least a dozen times.

Connie Tyler said her family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owners on behalf of Erika Tyler’s sons. She said she’s been told the tree had prior problems with branches falling, leading to the support cables being installed.

According to county records, the owners are Randy and Kristen Looney, of Redwood Valley. They were not available by phone Monday.

When the tree fell into the house on El Rio Street, Tyler’s boyfriend, Kyle Jones, an assistant manager at Walmart, thought it was an earthquake.

“Then it continued to get larger,” he said. “All of a sudden, the whole roof is falling down on top of us.”

He said it took about a minute to realize it was the tree, but it already was too late for Tyler. She was trapped under both the roof and huge tree branches. All he could see were her feet and legs.

She called out for him to free her, but he could not. She also told him she was all right.

After grabbing his son from the next room and escaping the home, Jones grabbed a chainsaw from the garage and began trying to cut the tree, but emergency responders stopped him, telling him he could make the situation worse if he cut the wrong branch.

It took a crane to lift the tree and debris from Tyler’s body. Emergency responders declared her dead at 5:40 a.m., according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. Her body was freed from the debris about 10:30 a.m.

Tyler was born in Illinois and was moved as a foster care infant to Oklahoma, where she was adopted by the Tyler family at the age of 21 months.

The family later moved from Oklahoma to Tennessee, then to California when Erika was about 10, her mother said.

They lived in Lake County, where Erika Tyler mostly grew up. She attended high school in Kelseyville where she was outgoing, had lots of friends and was a cheerleader, Connie Tyler said.

“Her teachers all said, ‘If they had a class in social, she would have gotten straight A’s,’” Tyler said.

“Erika loved everybody. When she met you and got to know you, you were no longer a friend. You were family.”

After high school, Erika Tyler managed apartment complexes for a number of years and worked part-time as a legal secretary, her mother said. She decided about a year ago to apply to work for Mendocino County, initially for the benefits, including retirement. But soon after she began work in June, first with child protective services, then as a legal clerk with the public defender’s office, it had grown into much more than that, Connie Tyler said.

“She absolutely loved it,” she said. “She finally found where she belonged. Everything was looking great for her.”

A service for Erika Tyler is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Ukiah Veterans Memorial Building.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 707-462-6473 or On Twitter @MendoReporter.

How to help

A GoFundMe account has been set up to Erika Tyler's family. To donate, go here.

Please read our commenting policy
  • No profanity, abuse, racism or hate speech
  • No personal attacks on other commenters
  • No spam or off-topic posts
  • Comments including URLs and media may be held for moderation
Send a letter to the editor
*** The system is currently unable to accept new posts (we're working on it) ***

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine