Quick Take:

A 1-year-old child had to be rescued from beneath a fallen tree in Boulder Creek on Tuesday night, when gusty winds also took out power to large swaths of Santa Cruz County and caused localized damage.

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A 1-year-old boy remained hospitalized Wednesday afternoon after a tree crashed into a house in Boulder Creek during a burst of rough weather overnight that brought strong winds and plunged large swaths of Santa Cruz County into darkness. National Weather Service Meteorologist Brayden Murdock said a weather station just north of Davenport registered winds reaching 55 mph Tuesday.

Mark Bingham, chief of the Boulder Creek Fire Protection District, said that at 6:25 p.m. Tuesday, his department was dispatched to a house on Bobcat Lane that had been pierced by a fallen top of a redwood tree. An infant boy was pinned by the tree and suffered severe cuts and traumatic injuries.

“Our battalion chief realized that we were going to need all hands on deck and some additional resources,” Bingham told Lookout, adding that they called in additional personnel from Cal Fire and a ground ambulance for patient transport.

The rescue required a team to gradually remove the weight of the tree from the roof. Another team inside the house was tasked with stabilizing the roof and using multiple pieces of equipment, including “jaws of life” — a hydraulic rescue tool — to lift the tree off of the child. Bingham said the boy lost consciousness briefly, but came to as crews were transporting him to Dominican Hospital via ambulance. Five other people were in the house, none of whom was harmed.

He said that it took firefighters only 29 minutes from getting the call to transporting the baby to the hospital — a very quick response given the difficulty of the situation. “Kudos to the firefighters that were on scene,” Bingham said. “The captains and battalion chiefs really had to work in a delicate, tricky situation.”

Bingham said the boy’s family updated the fire crew Wednesday morning, telling the first responders that the child had been transported to Valley Medical Trauma Center in Santa Clara. He is out of surgery and was considered to be in stable condition.

More destruction happened in Aptos, where a tree crushed a house on Cathedral Drive. Resident Martin Johnson said he was watching TV around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when he heard what sounded like an explosion: “When you live back here and you hear that sound, you know it’s a tree.”

Martin Johnson sits in front of his house's remains on Wednesday morning.
Martin Johnson sits in front of his house’s remains on Wednesday morning. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

The house was completely demolished, but luckily, Johnson and his parrot were unharmed — despite the fact that the tree came within 10 feet of hitting him.

“I was too close. What you really don’t understand is when trees come down, they explode, and shrapnel from the bark and falling branches comes down, too,” he said. “You’ve got to run and get away fast.”

Cal Fire spokesperson Cecile Juliette said that, aside from these two incidents, there was no other major damage to homes, businesses or Santa Cruz County public infrastructure due to Tuesday’s high winds. However, even those fortunate enough to escape structural damage spent hours in the dark as power outages hit multiple parts of the county.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) did not return Lookout’s multiple calls for information on Tuesday evening, but the company’s outage map showed more than 7,000 out of power on the Westside of Santa Cruz, parts of downtown and the DeLaveaga area. In the mountains, more than 2,000 appeared to be out of power.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 700 remain out of power on the Upper Westside, and more than 1,000 were still out of power in both Ben Lomond and the Manresa State Beach area. According to PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian, more than 13,000 Central Coast customers were still without power as of noon Wednesday.

PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado provided another update Wednesday evening. She said that as of 5:30 p.m., 8,842 Santa Cruz County customers remain impacted. She added that crews are also preparing for potential snowfall, which could cause more trees to fall and branches to break, resulting in additional outages.

Max Chun is the general-assignment correspondent at Lookout Santa Cruz. Max’s position has pulled him in many different directions, seeing him cover development, COVID, the opioid crisis, labor, courts...

Kevin Painchaud is an international award-winning photojournalist. He has shot for various publications for the past 30 years, appearing on sites nationwide, including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, MSNBC, The...