COSTA MESA — Off-duty Newport Beach Battalion Chief Todd Knipp was waiting for his son in an orthodontist's office when someone burst in and said a tree fell on a car across the corner.
Knipp told those around him to call 911 and raced downstairs to the scene at 17th Street and Irvine Avenue.
"First thing I did was check to see if there was immediately a problem with the driver and then check to see how many victims or patients we'd have in the car," Knipp said. "My first thought was given the time of day and location that I was just praying there wasn't any kids in the car."
There were no children inside the blue 2002 Hyundai. But 29-year-old Haeyoon Miller, a childhood musical prodigy who lived in Tustin with her boyfriend, was trapped in the coupe beneath the 50-foot blue gum eucalyptus that officials later said weighed 10 tons.