California attorney says state could be at fault in fatal redwood tree death in Del Norte Co.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — NBC5 News first told you about a redwood tree falling on Highway 199, killing two people from Yreka, last week.

A northern California attorney tells us he’s seen this situation happen before, and it resulted in a $2 million settlement from the state. Eureka, California attorney Ben Mainzer says this case is similar to one he worked on back in 2012.

A Humboldt County man was killed by a falling redwood tree on Route 36. His investigation determined that Caltrans had failed to do adequate tree inspections on the highway.

If done, he says the incident could have been prevented. He says the state settled the case for $2 million. When he saw what happened to the Woodruff’s in Del Norte County, he worried the same thing could have happened there.

“A proper tree inspection program doesn’t mean clear cutting all of the trees that border roads, it simply means paying attention to the trees that are there using common sense,” said Mainzer.

California Highway Patrol says the tree fell on the couple near Hiouchi, killing them instantly. It’s still under investigation.

We reached out to Caltrans for comment regarding the trees in the area, and their maintenance, we have not heard back.

For more on Benjamin Mainer’s law firm visit


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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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