San Diego

Family of Woman Killed by Falling Tree in PB Settles with City

A settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city of San Diego for the death of a woman who was killed by a falling tree in Pacific Beach.

The giant tree uprooted during a winter storm in 2016 and fell all the way across Ingraham Street. The sheer mass of it crushed local musician Nicki Carano’s car as she drove and killed her instantly.

Carano’s parents pushed for a trial by jury but ended up settling the case with the city last Friday.

The accident happened right in front of her parents' home.

"That was kind of a crazy moment," neighbor Dean Burriston told NBC 7 in April.

Burriston and his wife were deeply affected by Nicki's death. They are friends with the woman's parents and live across the street, right in the path of the uprooted tree.

"It took out all of our retaining wall and squished the palms here and just was a total mess," Burriston said.

In the lawsuit filed eight months after Nicki's death, parents Carol and Anthony claimed there was a known defect in the tree that made it hazardous, and the city was responsible for maintaining it.

Living in the shadow of the tree's enormous canopy for 20 years was uncomfortable for the Burristons.

"My wife and I were uneasy about it. We tried to determine how high it is and will it hit us. We were thinking that for years," Burriston said.

Burriston says the tree roots were also a constant problem, buckling the sidewalk and street, causing bike accidents and creating a speed bump effect.

“From the beginning, we could see where the root system of the big tree was going underground under the street,” Burriston said.

The settlement eliminates the argument over who's to blame, but Burriston says there is a lesson to be learned.

"We all love trees, we don't want to knock them down, but when it is the safety of the public, you have to take care of the problem," he said.

The city announced Wednesday it would pay the family $700,000.

NBC7 spoke with the woman's parents in April but they were still too devastated and wished not to talk on camera.

Carol said she cared little about the wrongful death case because no amount of money would bring her daughter, a professional drummer and dancer, back to life.

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