16-Pound Pine Cone Crushes Man’s Skull At San Francisco Park, $5 Million Lawsuit Filed

A $5 million lawsuit has been filed after a 16-pound pine cone fell and hit a man on the head, crushing his skull.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sean Mace was reading and napping under a tree in the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park at the Fort Mason Center, which is managed by the National Park Service, last October when a pine cone, described as being larger than a pineapple, fell from a tree and landed on his head. Sean, a Navy veteran who was in town for Fleet Week, recalled there being no signs warning him about giant falling pine cones, and now he has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior and the historic park. He is seeking nearly $5 million in damages for a brain injury he says he sustained during the incident.

“This guy has an irreversible brain injury and he’s only in his mid-50s,” Mace’s attorney Scott Johnson said. “He’s had two surgeries already and he is going to need a third.”

According to the lawsuit, filed on September 4 in San Francisco federal court, Mace was in the park to watch the Blue Angels air show. He found what he thought was a cozy spot under a coniferous Araucaria bidwillii trees, more commonly known as bunya pines or false monkey puzzle trees, the SF Gate reported, via MSN. The trees, which are found mostly in Australia, are not native to the area, and it is believed that the park planted them several years ago. Their pine cones can reportedly grow up to 16 inches in diameter and can weigh upwards of 40 pounds.

The court documents state that it was when Mace was napping under the tree that the pine cone broke loose and fell to the ground, crushing his skull in the process. He was immediately rushed to the San Francisco General Hospital, where he underwent a surgery to relieve the pressure from his brain to due internal bleeding. Five days later, he had to undergo another surgery to relieve the pressure again. Mace has lost his short-term memory, and will likely need long-term care and another surgery.

“He was immediately rendered unconscious,” Johnson said. “Blood was going everywhere.”

The court documents also reveal that there were no warning signs, netting, or fences around the tree to let tourists know the risk of being under them. Mace hopes that his incident will bring awareness and policy changes so no one else experiences this type of bizarre incident.

“First and foremost, the Park Service needs to do something to make sure this never happens again,” Johnson said. “This park is full of tourists and schoolchildren. Something needs to change. The concern is this could happen to someone else.”

The park officials have placed a barricade around the tree in question, and they have posted a warning sign that reads “Danger: Giant seed pod falling from tree” to keep tourists from sitting under it.

Do you agree with Mace filing the $5 million lawsuit? Leave your comments below.

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