Guy Sues After Skull Crushed by Giant Falling Pine Cone

Man was napping in park when 16-pound seed pod crushed his head
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2015 3:39 PM CDT
Guy Sues After Skull Crushed by Giant Falling Pine Cone
Bunya pine seed pods, such as the one that severely injured Sean Mace, can get very large, as seen in this photo by Rodmunch99.   (Wikipedia)

Sean Mace—on vacation after losing his job in Washington—was napping under some trees in a San Francisco park while waiting to watch the Blue Angels perform when his skull was crushed by a falling 16-pound pine cone, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The accident happened in October 2014, and Mace filed suit against the park and a number of government agencies last month, according to an announcement from his lawyer Monday. Mace is seeking $5 million in damages. “This guy has an irreversible brain injury and he’s only in his mid-50s,” his lawyer Scott Johnson says. “He’s had two surgeries already and he is going to need a third.” According to NBC Bay Area, Mace is suffering from short-term memory loss, cognitive issues, and other permanent brain damage.

The pine cone that hit Mace came from a bunya pine tree—also known as an Araucaria bidwillii tree or a false monkey puzzle tree—whose seed pods can weigh up to 40 pounds, the Chronicle reports. Johnson tells NBC it was like getting hit by a falling bowling ball. The lawsuit claims San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park should have had fences and warning signs—which it has installed since the accident—to keep park visitors safe. Johnson tells the Chronicle Mace has PTSD and depression from the incident. “He’s afraid to go outside at this point because he’s afraid something is going to hit him in the head,” Johnson says. “He is completely dependent and will likely need lifetime care.” (San Francisco was also sued by Journey's guitar player over wedding permit fees.)

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