Three injured by fallen tree branch at Menlo College

A large tree branch came crashing down on a crowd attending a picnic at Menlo College in Atherton on Saturday afternoon, injuring two adults and a toddler.

Half a dozen adults and children were sitting under a heritage oak tree after 2:20 p.m. when picnic goers heard a loud crack. A branch, which had a circumference of three feet, broke off the tree and collapsed on top of the crowd, according to the Menlo Park Fire District.

Hundreds of people were attending a company picnic held by Riverbed Technologies. One adult had minor injuries but refused medical care. A woman suffered a blow to the head and a 1-year-old child had body wounds. Both were transported to Stanford Hospital.

With hundreds of people attending the picnic, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said in a statement that the crews were extremely relieved that more people were not hurt.

“Other similar events have had far worse outcomes, and it’s something to think about and have checked if you have large trees, given years of drought followed by a winter with such significant rainfall,” Schapelhouman said.

He said that Menlo College is “very diligent about maintenance and the upkeep of their campus, which includes a significant number of large, beautiful, heritage oaks.”

The fire department is following up with the college about tree safety inspections next week.