Chicago Fire Department officials said the “healthy” tree fell in the northbound lanes near Schiller Street on the Gold Coast.
RAW VIDEO | The tree of the moment falls on Lake Shore Drive
Video captured the moment ruthless winds split the tree by the lake in half, sending half cascading into oncoming traffic.
The tree landed on a red SUV, immobilizing inside two men who had just arrived in Chicago on vacation, according to a retired Chicago firefighter who was in the car behind him.
“If I had been a little heavier on the gas pedal, I could have been hit,” said Robert Cordt. “I saw him hit the other car and sprawl across all four lanes of Lake Shore Drive, so I braked as hard as I could.”
WATCH | CFD tries to clear large fallen tree on Lake Shore Drive
Cordt’s SUV slammed into the tree, but not with the quite immediate impact that the one right in front of it. The second the 24-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department knew he was okay, he ran to help the SUV in front of him.
“They were fine, they had some blood on them,” he said. “It was from the broken windshield, and the airbags forced the shards of glass into their faces.”
The windshield was shattered and the fronts of both SUVs were severely dented, but as the traffic behind them stopped, the two crashed vehicles were able to clear the road.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Cordt said.
The officers of the CPD traffic unit as well as @ ChicagoCAPS18 responded quickly to an accident on Lake Shore Drive involving a large tree and several vehicles.
– Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) May 28, 2021
Three people in the crash refused to seek treatment, while one person was taken in good condition to the Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Langford said.
The aftermath was shattered and messy, leaving a line of vacation traffic stranded and bottlenecked as crews rushed to clear the tree.
“The tree fell in the wind. He made a nice slice on the trunk of the tree. Half fell,” Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.
A large healthy tree falls on Lake Shore Drive. A person transported in good condition. Two cars hit. Approximately 1400 north in the north lanes. pic.twitter.com/pVmvLC3kND
– Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) May 28, 2021
Winds were gusting to 35 mph at O’Hare Airport on Friday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
A high wave warning closed most of Chicago’s beaches to swimming on the first day they reopened since closing more than a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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