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Family of woman killed by falling tree: ‘Our hearts are broken’

Los Angeles County firefighters work on a large eucalyptus tree that fell on a wedding party Saturday in Whittier.
(Keith Durflinger / Associated Press)
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The family of a woman who was killed by a falling tree at her daughter’s wedding Saturday has hired a civil attorney to advise them, a law firm spokesman said.

On Tuesday, the family of Margarita Mojarro, 61, released a statement through their attorney saying they are in anguish after Mojarro’s death at Whittier’s Penn Park and have requested privacy.

“Our hearts are broken. What started as a happy day for our family ended in terrible sadness,” the statement said. “We are all still trying to understand how this could have happened. In this time of grief, we are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the community. We continue to ask for our family’s privacy to be respected.”

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Mojarro, of San Pedro, died when an 80-foot eucalyptus tree suddenly failed and fell onto her and her daughter’s wedding party. Several others were injured, including a 4-year-old girl. The family has not said whether it will pursue civil action against the city. The accident was on public land.

Investigators are trying to learn why a tree came crashing down over the weekend during a wedding shoot.

“Saturday’s tragic accident at Penn Park defies explanation,” Mayor Joe Vinatieri said in a statement. “On behalf of all Whittier residents, our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they grieve their loss and care for those who were injured.”

The park has been closed since the incident as the city surveys the rest of its trees to determine whether others are on the brink of failing, officials said.

With the survey nearly finished, Vinatieri announced Tuesday that “the trees that have been inspected so far look fine, and it does not appear that any will need to be removed.”

The inspection should conclude Wednesday, and after that the city’s findings will be made public, he said.

According to a University of California database on tree failures, eucalyptus is the third-most common type of tree to fail in California. Saturday’s failure followed two days of substantial rain, which officials speculate may have contributed to the fall, along with the state’s enduring drought.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

4:20 p.m.: This article was updated with details about preliminary results of the park inspection.

This article was originally published at 2:20 p.m.


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