On September 14, AISB ninth graders were hiking in the mountains in Băile Tusnad, Romania, when a-tremendous tree collapsed, nearly killing several students.

Each year, secondary students spend five days in various parts of the country, participating in “team building” type activities. Grade 9’s and their advisors spend this time in Harghita County–a Hungarian influenced region in Eastern Transylvania. With a population of 1,617, it is the smallest town in Romania, and known for its crater lake–surrounded by forest. Some of the trees are very old and have become weakened at the root.

It was the third day of the trip when the students were on their 10-hour round-trip hike to the lake. They had just finished a nice goulash lunch at the crater lake, and were looking forward to relaxing at the hotel. Then, all of a sudden, a huge tree fell from its roots and collapsed on the valley. It rolled down the hill, and luckily one of the other trees stopped it from hitting the five students who were in its path.

“I was terrified and I had a rush of Adrenaline,” said Can C. “I think the tree fell because the quality of the soil was bad, the tree was old and lastly the kids stepped on the roots.”

But the truth is, no one knows exactly why the tree fell. Scientific research shows that trees can live up to 5,000 years, and the trees in the mountains of Bàile Tusnad aren’t even close to that number.

“It was a chance of one in a million that a gigantic tree would fall the same day 80-plus people went on the hike, and an higher chance that it would fall exactly next to us,” said the paramedic on the scene. Needless to say, the ninth grade students were extremely lucky to escape the incident without injury.