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Massive Oak Tree Smashes Through Home, Killing 64-Year-Old Father: 'He's the Rock of Our Family'

·2-min read
man killed by tree
man killed by tree

cbs los angeles

A man died after a massive tree smashed through his Encino, California, home on Sunday.

The victim, identified as 64-year-old lawyer and USC Gould School of Law and Pepperdine Law adjunct professor Dennis Franks, was on the second floor of his home in the 5000 block of North Odessa Avenue when a 100,000-lb. oak tree smashed through, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

KTLA reported Dennis, who recently retired during the pandemic, was reading in his "man cave" when the tree toppled over. His wife, Maureen, and daughter, Becca, who were on the first floor, escaped uninjured, along with the family dog, Parker.

Franks' son, Kevin, told CBS Los Angeles he had left the home earlier that day after a family dinner. Hours later, his sister called him with the tragic news.

"He's the rock of our family," Kevin said of his father. "I want him remembered as, like, a caretaker — he took care of everyone. We're going to love him and miss him and think about him forever."

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"He was in his happy place, I guess," he added. "He's everything to me. He's the reason I wanted to do well in school. The reason I wanted to succeed in life was to be able to make him proud."

Kevin also told the outlet that the city owned the 500-year-old, 50-ton tree, which the family properly maintained according to city code.

"We had arborists come out, the city had us put metal pieces in it so … the branches and stuff wouldn't drop," he said.

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But neighbor Tony Montero said the giant tree was still concerning and dangerous. "It was leaning directly over the house … it was probably 30 degrees," said Montero.

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

As of Tuesday, experts were still working to remove the tree from the home. According to CBS Los Angeles, the home has been "red-tagged" by the L.A. Department of Building and Safety, deeming the structure unsafe.

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