A woman who had only been at work 10 minutes received a phone call from Palo Alto police Jan. 12 that she couldn't imagine. Her car had been in an accident, the officer on the line said.
"But I'm at work," Jia Wang told police.
"Yes, but your car was in an accident with a tree," Wang said the officer responded.
Wang said she couldn't understand.
"I kept thinking that my car somehow hit a tree," she said.
When Wang checked her car, she found a large acacia had crashed onto her red Honda Civic sedan shortly before noon, crushing the passenger-side door, roof and windshield. The tree was completely blocking Waverley Street on the 900 block near Homer Avenue.
Police told her the car was probably totaled. Wang said she felt lucky that she was not in the car.
"There is also a baby seat in there," she noted, being grateful that her child was not in it.
A City of Palo Alto employee estimated the tree was about 35 years old. Acacias have shallow root systems, and in an urban environment they don't tend to live that long. Constricted in a strip between the sidewalk and the street, the tree roots had limited access to water, the worker said. Recent strong winds probably weakened the tree, which fell down on its own.
The tree's roots snapped, raising the sidewalk to about a 60-degree angle.
City crews were planning to hoist the tree off Wang's car and remove it this afternoon. They did not have an estimate for how long the road would be closed to traffic.