News • February 04, 2022

Students moved to new housing as cleanup of downed tree begins

Cleanup begins after tree fall, students moved to new housing

Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 4, 2022) –Aubree Bellanca, a liberal studies junior, was at her campus job on Feb. 2 when her roommates texted that a tree had fallen on their Lancer Arms apartment at California Baptist University.   

“My roommates said it felt like a huge earthquake,” Bellanca said. “They heard the thundering snap, and they were scared for their lives from all of the shaking.”  

High winds caused the 92-foot tree to snap and fall on the two-story building. Fifteen students, including Bellanca and her roommates, from six apartments were primarily moved to other campus housing. One student remains in a hotel.  

“Residence Life has been super helpful with moving us and getting the stuff we need because we can’t go in,” Bellanca said. “[They] said whatever we need, email them a list and they will get us our stuff as soon as they can.”   

Cierra Sao, residence director of Lancer Arms, was in her office when she heard a loud crack, like thunder. A couple seconds later the building shook. She ran around the building and saw the tree had snapped and fallen.  

“I ran upstairs, made sure those apartments that I could get to were clear, trying to get a head count of where everybody was and tried to make sure everyone was safe,” Sao said.  

Only a few students were in their apartments that late morning and none were on the top floor, Sao said.   

The following day she was busy gathering the students’ belongings for their move. 

“We care deeply about them and will do our best to make sure their needs are taken care of,” Sao said.  

Kent Dacus, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said staff is providing the students assistance where needed, whether contacting faculty about missing or late academic work because of the incident or replacing personal items that cannot currently be retrieved from the apartments.   

“We are committed to helping each affected student work through this,” Dacus said. “All in all, we were very fortunate in the outcome we had. It could have easily been different with injuries or death. I really think we have built a culture of caring and taking care of our students. I think our staff and community is doing that.”  

Facilities and Planning Services were still waiting to be able to enter all the units, said Brenda Flores, associate director of business administration for Facilities and Planning Services.   

“It does look like it's exterior damage only, that nothing actually went inside any of the units. It's miraculous, but no windows were broken,” Flores said.  

The tree also damaged the roof, but it only went into the attic not any units, Flores said.  

BrightView, which CBU contracts for landscaping, is doing the tree removal.  

To read a local news story about the incident, click here  

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504