Investigation continues, victims remembered after two killed by tree branch

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Some members of the community are coming together to pay tribute to the victims of the tree branch accident that happened on July 3 at the Rock Island County Courthouse.

Two people died and five people were hurt after a large tree branch fell on a crowd of spectators watching fireworks. 

Daniel Mendoza Ortiz Sr.                                                         Lawrence Anderson

Witnesses said that dozens of people were gathered on the Rock Island Courthouse lawn to watch the annual Red, White and Boom fireworks display on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.  Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos said around 9:40 p.m. a large branch fell 25 feet down, hitting a group of people.

Rock Island County Courthouse lawn is taped off July 4th, 2018 – the day after a large tree branch fell to the ground, killing 2 people. WQAD photo

Sheriff Bustos confirmed that 61-year-old Daniel Mendoza Ortiz, Sr. from Rock Island was pronounced dead at the scene.  Another man, 72-year-old Lawrence Anderson from Moline was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.  Autopsies were scheduled for both Mendoza and Anderson on Wednesday, July 4.

Members of the community have brought flowers and art pieces to the location of the accident.

"I came back to put flowers by the tree because I don't know the families to offer them condolence. So, my flowers are there and I just want to say that I am so sorry that this happened." said Sondra Boyle who laid flowers near the site of the accident.

The sheriff's department said there is an ongoing investigation into what happened.

In a press briefing, Sheriff Bustos said they will provide an update as more information becomes available.

The accident happened during a time when weather conditions were safe and the sheriff said the tree appeared to be normal and full of foliage.

Investigators say they will also check on other trees on the property, to ensure they are safe to be around.