Toppled eucalyptus smashes vehicle, kills Novato man on UC Berkeley campus

The fallen tree on Gayley Road at 3:50 p.m. Photo: Citizen reporter

Update, 3:15 p.m. UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university will assess trees in the area of Sunday’s fatality and remove any that pose a threat to public safety: The campus is currently in the midst of efforts to address tree maintenance on more than a dozen university-owned sites, including the recent work in People’s Park. While the tree that fell along Gayley Road yesterday was not identified as being in need of care or maintenance as part of the maintenance work that is currently underway, we are taking immediate steps to assess whether we can learn anything from the condition of the fallen tree that could improve our evaluation of whether other trees pose a threat to public safety. We expect this work to be completed in the next 48 hours and will, as we have in the past, remove trees as per the recommendations and assessments we receive from certified arborists.”

Update, 11:41 p.m. The coroner’s office has identified the driver who was killed as Alexander Grant, 32, of Novato. Authorities believe he had likely been visiting someone on campus before the tree fell onto his vehicle. Grant is not listed as a UC Berkeley student, according to coroner’s office staff. The coroner will review the case in the morning.

Original story, 10:06 p.m. A driver was killed Sunday afternoon on the UC Berkeley campus when a huge eucalyptus tree fell on his vehicle, authorities report.

The fallen tree on Gayley Road at 3:50 p.m. Photo: Citizen reporter

The incident happened on Gayley Road at 3:48 p.m., said UCPD Sgt. Thomas Wing. Wing confirmed there was a fatality. He said no further information was immediately available.


An Alameda County coroner’s office representative said the victim may have been student-aged but was not believed to be a UC Berkeley student. As of late Sunday night, authorities were attempting to notify the man’s family in Novato, he said, so the man’s name and age could not be released.

The driver was alone in the car when a 250-foot eucalyptus tree crashed onto it, authorities said. The incident happened as the man was heading down a driveway from Stern Hall onto Gayley Road just north of the Greek Theatre on the eastern side of the UC Berkeley campus.

A UCPD officer tried to use a window punch to break the glass to reach the driver, who was unresponsive, according to unconfirmed scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside.

There was a fatality on Gayley Road on the UC Berkeley campus. Image: Google Maps

Berkeley Fire Department Battalion Chief Bill Kehoe said firefighters removed the driver from the vehicle and pronounced him dead at the scene.

The fire department brought in an urban search and rescue dog to run the length of the fallen tree to confirm there were no other victims, he said. None were found.

There were several other reports over the weekend of fallen trees in Berkeley, including a palm tree at Regent Street and Dwight Way that fell onto electrical wires, ignited and caught fire, Kehoe said.

There were also numerous vehicle crashes throughout the day Sunday as rain pelted the city. They included an overturned van and a car into a tree. Neither incident resulted in significant injuries.

Stay tuned for updates.