When you first hear that a San Francisco man is suing the city for $5 million because a 16-pound pine cone fell on his head, you might think that sounds ridiculous. Do pine cones really get that big? Well they do, and it’s not.
Pine cones do in fact get that big, especially the coniferous Araucaria bidwillii trees, more commonly known as bunya pines or false monkey puzzle trees, which 52-year-old Sean Mace unknowingly sat under to watch the Blue Angels fly over one day.
Bunya pines have cones that grow up to 16 inches in diameter and weight up to 40 pounds. The cone that landed on this unfortunate man’s head weighed less than half that. Not that it felt any lighter.
The US Navy veteran was rushed to the hospital where he received surgery to relieve the swelling in his brain. As a result, he reportedly suffered permanent brain damage.
Mace is suing for $5 million to cover the damages along with emotional distress, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle.
His attorneys argue the city violated its own laws to remove any exotic species that might cause a hazard to public safety and post warning signs, neither of which the city did.
Officials did post a sign and blocked the area off following the incident, according to the newspaper.
Street artist Joe Barlow who often sits in the park told the Chronicle the pods often barely miss people.
“It just missed them,” Barlow said. “And it’s not just the size of them either. They’re big, but they’re really heavy and they have these spikes on the outside like a pineapple.”