100,000lb tree falls on home killing father reading in his ‘man cave’

·2 min read
The Los Angeles Fire Department were called to the address on Sunday  (CBS Los Angeles)
The Los Angeles Fire Department were called to the address on Sunday (CBS Los Angeles)

A former attorney and professor in Encino, California, has died after a “large tree” fell on to his house and apparently crushed him to death.

Dennis Franks, who was identified by his family, was believed to have been reading in his study or so-called “man cave” late on Sunday night when a tree weighing 100,000lb fell.

The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) arrived at the North Odessa Avenue address to find 64-year-old Mr Franks “trapped” on the second floor and, according to KTLA, was found dead of his injuries.

The department said it “safely evacuated” two of his relatives, his wife and daughter, who had eaten with the retired attorney hours before the tragedy struck at 11pm.

His son, Kevin Franks, said his father was reading in a “man cave” in what was his childhood bedroom, and what was described as his “happy place”, when the tree fell.

The tree was 500-years-old and allegedly owned by the City of Los Angeles, but as Mr Franks told CBS Los Angeles, was well maintained by his family.

Tony Montero, a neighbour, told local news outlets that he was concerned that the tree had been “leaning directly over the house” at almost “30 degrees” before it fell.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said the LAFD’s Cody Weireter. “You’re looking at well over 100,000lbs of a tree falling onto a home in the middle of the night. No wind or rain … obviously unexpected, absolutely tragic tonight.”

Reports said the tree was still being removed from the home on Tuesday, and that the City of Los Angeles had labelled the building as structurally unsafe.

Mr Franks was described by his son as the “rock of our family” and, according to reports, was as adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s law school.

He was also a former legal adviser for 20th Century Fox Film and the Walt Disney Company.

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