‘I just saw the tree fall’: Family mourns 2-year-old killed amid storm in Sonoma County

A small figure of a woman stands in front of debris from a smashed trailer in pine-tree wooded landscape
Aisha Tocchini stands at the site where her son, Aeon, was killed Wednesday when a redwood tree fell on the family’s trailer in Sonoma County.
(Jessica Garrison / Los Angeles Times)
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A 2-year-old child was killed in the Sonoma County community of Occidental on Wednesday by a falling tree. The toddler was one of at least two people who died in the storm that hit Northern California this week.

Shortly after sunset, Bonnie Needels was in her home on a ridge above Occidental when she heard a loud boom so powerful it shook her house, followed by screams for help. Then, above the frenzy of the storm, the night was filled with the sound of a mother wailing with grief.

Next door, a giant redwood tree had cracked in half and plummeted into a double-wide trailer that was home to Dan and Aisha Tocchini and their 2-year-old son, Aeon.


The tree slammed into the house directly over where Aeon was sitting on a couch, trapping and killing him while his father, who was a few feet away, watched in horror.

Aisha Tocchini had just arrived home from her work as a horse trainer and was approaching the house on foot. “I just saw the tree fall,” she said Thursday, staring at the wreckage that had been her home with wide, horrified eyes, as if the accident were replaying before her.

At first, she said, she thought her husband was dead as well, but he somehow emerged from the wreckage. A neighbor came running, and together they tried to move the massive redwood to free the boy. Somehow, they did it, and Dan Tocchini ran out to the street, carrying the child as first responders, who had been summoned by a 911 call, arrived.

The wreckage of a home in a heavily forested area.
Wreckage is seen at the spot where an Occidental family’s home was crushed by a tree.
(Jessica Garrison / Los Angeles Times)

The call came in at 5:14 p.m. Wednesday, and the Occidental Fire Department was dispatched to the mobile home on the 2800 block of Joy Road, said Sgt. Juan Valencia of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

But there was nothing to be done. The Tocchinis’ son, whom they called “Goldie” because, according to his grandmother Aileen Tocchini, he brings “so much joy and happiness to everybody,” was dead.


After fire officials unsuccessfully attempted CPR, the toddler was pronounced deceased at 5:48 p.m.

A few hours later, a second redwood snapped and also struck the family’s property. It killed the family cat, Leo, Aileen Tocchini said, a pet who had been a particular favorite of her grandson.

The day after the accident, Aileen and Aisha Tocchini stood in the misty dripping rain, beneath a canopy of towering redwoods in front of their destroyed home, as if trying to make some sense of it. Around them, workers looked for what could be salvaged.

Aileen Tocchini said Aeon was a child of particular joy. “His life was a shining light,” she said, collapsing into tears.

A GoFundMe page created by Liz Haskins, Aeon’s aunt, had raised more than $42,000 for funeral costs and help for the family.


On an average day, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office gets 70 to 80 emergency calls, but the storm caused havoc, Valencia said. “Yesterday, within a 24-hour period, we received 445 911 calls for service.”

The storm spurred an evacuation warning for some other areas of Sonoma County. Efforts to relocate residents highlighted how many people live off the grid in mobile homes and trailers in the area, said Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma County supervisor for District 5. Unlike in 2019, when floods also hit the area, officials are “struggling to find places to put folks” who need emergency relocation.

A second storm-related death occurred when a woman’s car crashed after hydroplaning in the Solano County city of Fairfield, the Fairfield Police Department said. The Fairfield resident, 19, was killed in the one-car crash on Vanden Road.

The department said the road was partly flooded “due to heavy rain pummeling the area.” The victim was driving east when “she encountered a patch of standing water and hydroplaned, losing control of the vehicle before colliding into a utility pole.”