BURLINGAME (CBS SF) – The family of a recent Cal State University East Bay grad who was killed by a fallen tree outside his workplace in Burlingame in late February has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owner and landscaping companies.

Khalil Gay was walking with a co-worker outside the Color Genomics facility on Mitten Road when a 30-foot-tall Brazilian peppertree fell on him February 26. Despite assistance from coworkers and first responders, Gay was declared dead at the scene.

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Attorneys representing Gay’s parents filed a lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court on Tuesday seeking general and wrongful death damages.

“This brilliant and caring young man’s life was cut short as a result of the defendants’ neglect in caring for and safely maintaining this tree. In fact, the tree should have been removed long before it fell onto Kahlil and killed him,” said attorney Robert Glassman.

Khalil Gay was killed by a falling tree outside his workplace in Burlingame on February 26, 2021. (Family Photo)

Khalil Gay was killed by a falling tree outside his workplace in Burlingame on February 26, 2021. (Family Photo)

According to attorneys, the tree was in a dangerous condition due to multiple factors. The lawsuit alleges that the tree was planted on bay fill and too close to a neighboring tree, which hindered its root structure and its growth.

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Attorneys also claim the tree was in “obvious decline” since at least May of 2019 and its roots were further disturbed last year when a large fire water main was installed nearby. Before the tree fell, the tree’s roots were cut, and most of the other roots were diseased and or decayed.

The 23-year-old physics researcher from Riverside County graduated in December and was on the job less than a week when he was killed.

Deadly Tree Fall in Burlingame


“At a very early age, he knew that he wanted to be in the physics or engineering field. He knew actually where he was going in life,” the victim’s aunt told KPIX 5 in February.

Khalil’s aunt and brothers remembered him as a kind, peaceful man, a devoted Muslim, and a hard worker.

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Darryl Gay, Khalil’s brother said, “If he really loved something, he’s going to put his complete 1,000% into whatever he’s handling.”