LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The family of an East Los Angeles man who was crushed to death by a palm tree over the weekend wants to know if the tragedy could have been prevented.

Tony Calderon, 49, was killed around 8:30 a.m. Saturday near Dozier Street and Gage Avenue when a neighbor’s massive tree fell on top of him.

“I know something could have been done. I know something could have been done,” the victim’s brother, Peter Gonzalez, said. “A lot of times it takes something horrible like this to happen for there to be change.”

Neighbors said they complained about the palm tree to the county.

“We checked the records this morning and there have been no code violations on this property ever,” Bob Spencer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works said.

CBS2’s Kristine Lazar said public works can force a resident to prune or cut down a tree they deem dangerous.

In this case, the homeowner said Saturday that she couldn’t afford to cut down the 30-year-old palm tree.

“I’m on a fixed income and I don’t have $2,000 to $3,000 to cut down each tree,” Rose Cordova said.

Public works is sending the fire department to check out the remaining two palms on Cordova’s property.

The county, however, won’t foot the bill if they need to check it out, as well.

“We are prepared to work with property owners in identifying programs, assistance programs, that can potentially help them get over this issue,” Spencer said.

Arborist Ruben Green said homeowners need to have their trees inspected every one to two years.

“They maintain their homes, they paint their homes and their cars, but sometimes people don’t think to maintain their trees,” he said.

Green said there are several warning signs that a tree is unhealthy and in danger of falling, including the age of the tree, its bark and its location.


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