$700,000 for family of San Diego musician killed by falling tree

It took firefighters about two hours to reach Nicki Lyn Carano's car, one of four crushed by the 100-foot-tall Torrey pine.
(John Gastaldo / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The parents of a San Diego musician who died after a giant tree fell on her car in Pacific Beach settled their lawsuit against the city for $700,000, officials confirmed Thursday.

The tree, estimated to be 100 feet tall, 6 feet wide and more than 50 years old, fell across Ingraham Street near Fortuna Avenue during a powerful storm on Jan. 31, 2016.

It crushed three parked vehicles and a passing car driven by Nicki Lyn Carano. She died before she could be taken to a hospital.


Her parents, Anthony and Carole Ann Carano, filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging city authorities had “actual and/or constructive knowledge” that there was a defect in the tree that caused their daughter’s death.

They also claimed the city had a duty to inspect trees near the roadway for flaws and have a hazardous tree management plan in place. They contended the city failed in its duties to keep the area safe and warn the public of any hidden danger.

The county and the state also are named as defendants in the suit. Initially, the homeowners association that owns the property nearest the tree was named as well, but it was later determined the city was responsible for the tree’s maintenance.

The City Council will be asked to approve the settlement on Tuesday.

On the day Carano was killed, she was on her way to Ocean Beach to perform with her band Spider Tree.

She also played in an all-female band called Nectarine, as well as the band Donna Cristy & The Camel Tones. She taught drums at Nightingale Music School.

According to the lawsuit, the tree was a large Torrey pine that was designated as a “landmark tree” under the city’s policy providing for preservation and protection of public trees. It was also located within a dedicated public right-of-way.


Authorities said at the time of the incident that it took firefighters about two hours to cut away enough of the tree to get to Carano’s car.

Winkley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune