TUSTIN, CA — Knelt in prayer, family and friends sorrowfully said goodbye to their loved one Dennet Bermas at St. Cecilia Church in Tustin. Bermas tragically died on October 15, when ferocious high winds slammed many parts of the Southland.
The 34-year-old nursing assistant was fatally crushed by a big eucalyptus tree which fell onto her car—at the parking lot of her apartment complex— as she was leaving for work that morning.
Though her immediate family, who are still deep in disbelief and mourning, requested not to speak on camera, her friends say Denden was a loving wife, a giving daughter and a dedicated friend.
“She’s the most genuine person I have ever met. She always makes time bring everyone back together,” said Elena Primicias.
Her family has now hired a legal team — to represent them in their impending legal battle, because they believe her death could have been prevented.
“Apparently there is a dispute on who has the responsibility of maintaining the tree,” said Atty. Noriel Flores. “Both the owner of the apartment complex and the house behind the complex are pointing to each other who is responsible.”
Under California Civil Code 833 and 834, “If the trunk of the tree stands in your property, it’s your responsibility, even if their roots/branches grow into the land of your neighbor. This means that they have the duty to proper trimming in order to reduce the risk of injury, property damage or death. Also, for trees whose trunks stand partly on the land of two or more owners, each owns the tree equally and is also legally responsible for any damage or injury to person or property.”
Experts say property owners may try to deny liability by arguing that a storm that caused the tree to fall over was an act of God – under the common law. But witnesses say Berma’s accident is not isolated.
“We understand that there have been previous incidents affecting the line of trees in the same property, there have been issues..and it is a risk of those trees falling over and hurting people on the premises,” said Attorney Melissa Herbito.
We reached out to the owner of the apartment complex but have not received a response so far.
Berma’s family has started a GoFundMe page and is requesting help in the aftermath of this tragic incident.