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Tree Limb Falls, Hits Woman at City Hall Park: Officials

What to Know

  • A large tree fell on a woman as she strolled two kids and held an infant in Central Park Tuesday morning, authorities and witnesses say
  • Officials say the mom was pinned under the tree for up to 10 minutes and was in and out of consciousness; she was in critical condition
  • Authorities say the woman tried to shield her kids from the impact; they were hospitalized too, but were expected to be OK

A large tree limb broke and fell at City Hall Park in downtown Manhattan Wednesday afternoon, hitting an elderly woman underneath -- the second time in as many days someone has been hit by a tree in a city park. 

Witness Rad Rabi says people were sitting on park benches under the tree at the park when it cracked, but were able to get out of the way in time. The elderly woman wasn't able to escape, and the limb hit her on the leg.

"I was amazed. I was scared because this could happen to anybody sitting on the bench or walking," said Rabi. 

The FDNY says the woman was evaluated on scene but she declined further medical aid. 

Councilman Mark Levine says more tree inspections and maintenance need to be done across the city. He's advocated for a seven-year tree pruning cycle along city streets and secured $2.7 million earlier this year for the operation -- but after a massive tree fell in Central Park Tuesday, Levine now wants similar regulation of trees within city parks. 

"Central Park, unlike the rest of the city, has private resources to pay for world-class tree care. But even there, trees can still fall when they are getting the best care," he said. 

"So there's no fail-safe solution but we're really exposed if we are not doing some sort of regular inspection," he said. 

The parks department says it inspects street trees and trees in parks both through its regular block pruning program as well as through requests from staff and the public. It also launched a new tree risk management program last month to better assess trees in keeping with industry standards. 

"We are continuously exploring new ways to keep our trees and the public safe. NYC Parks' Forestry division has more than 70 skilled inspectors who conduct tens of thousands of inspections on city trees every year," the parks department said in a statement. "All our inspectors are urban forestry professionals, many of whom have advanced certifications from the International Society of Arboriculture."

The mother in Central Park's tree accident was hospitalized in critical condition and was continuing to recover Wednesday. 

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