Five children have been orphaned after a birthday outing turned tragic.
Couple Jessica and Jake Woodruff were driving from Yreka to Oregon to celebrate Jessica’s birthday when a giant sequoia fell on her car, killing the couple.
They leave behind five children, Megan, Evan, Casey, Allie and Chelsea, ages 8 to 24.
The 45-year-old mother was reportedly a passenger in the 2016 Honda Accord with her husband Jake, 36, who was driving in Del Norte County, California on Thursday morning when a large redwood fell from the side. east of the road. according to a press release from the California Highway Patrol.
A GoFundMe set up to help the couple’s children says the family was on an annual trip to the coast for Jessica’s 45th birthday.
“These 5 children are now left without parents and facing lifetime expenses,” wrote GoFundMe organizer Amanda Maffei.
“We ask anyone who can support them to do so, as these children are faced with the devastating reality of what has just been ripped from their lives in a split second. Those of you who know this family know how close they are, and your lives will change forever.”
In an update thanking those who have supported the fundraiser, which so far exceeds $150,000, Amanda writes, “There is no way around the devastation and trauma that the loss of Jessica and Jake has brought, and as we can all imagine , there is a long road ahead, especially for the children who have been left behind.
“Knowing that this family and these children have received so much support in recent days is beyond amazing.”
Family member Emma Miravalle Hood told Wild Rivers Outpost that the two oldest children, from Jessica’s previous relationship, “immediately offered to raise her [three] younger brothers of hers.”
“This family and these parents were such a humble, fun-loving couple that they knew they were soul mates the moment they met.”
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, police said.
“This is a very wooded area,” Brandy Gonzalez of the California Highway Patrol told SFGate. “We have trees everywhere. It’s in the middle of the redwoods. It’s just old growth and we have no idea why the tree fell. It was Mother Nature.”
Brandy added that while trees do occasionally fall, the fatal incident was extremely rare.
“The timing of it all was very, very unusual,” she said. “I’ve been in the department for 19 years and I’ve been in this area 12-13 years and it’s very unusual. We’ve had trees down and cars making contact, but this type of incident is highly unusual.”