View Full Version : Man Killed By Falling Tree In Central Park

February 25th, 2010, 05:52 PM
From: The Gothamist-
A man was killed "after a tree fell on top of him" in Central Park near the corner of East 69th Street and Fifth Avenue, according to police scanner reports. The victim was found dead at some time before 3:35 pm, and police and emergency workers have been dispatched to the scene. Last year, a man suffered brain damage and spinal injuries (http://gothamist.com/2009/07/30/man_hit_by_central_park_tree_branch.php) after a large tree branch (http://gothamist.com/2010/02/25/him%20http://gothamist.com/2009/07/29/man_injured_by_falling_tree_branch.php) fell more than 30 feet and struck him near West Drive and 63rd Street in Central Park. He has filed suit (http://gothamist.com/2009/12/05/man_injured_by_tree_limb_files_suit.php) against the city and the Central Park Conservancy (http://www.centralparknyc.org/site/PageServer) for neglect. Last summer, a willow tree fell (http://gothamist.com/2009/11/30/weeping_willow.php) into the Pool (http://www.centralpark2000.com/database/pool.html) in Central Park.
Update (4:34 pm): Police sources tell Gothamist that the victim, a 53-year-old male, was walking in the park near the corner of East Drive and 68th Street when he was struck by a falling branch. The Times (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/person-killed-by-falling-tree-in-central-park/) reports the incident was first reported with a 911 call at around 3:26 pm alerting authorities of a man "sprawled on ground, in distress, with severe wounds to his head."
Meanwhile, police scanner reports indicate a "large tree fell onto a city bus and another auto" near the corner of East 71st Street and Fifth Avenue. The tree struck the vehicles at some time before 4:18 pm, and dispatches requested "equipment and saws" be "walked up to the scene." Following that incident, scanner reports indicate that Fifth Avenue "is shut down."
Update (4:48 pm): Police reports now indicate that the incident involving a tree falling on a city bus and another car on Fifth Avenue has become "a fatal accident." WCBS (http://wcbstv.com/breakingnewsalerts/falling.tree.branch.2.1520628.html) reports that tree branches struck a bus at the corner of 71st Street, and a car on 69th Street—though the station says there were no injuries. At 4:31 pm, the city's NotifyNYC (https://a858-nycnotify.nyc.gov/notifynyc/) alert system sent out the following message: "Street closures at 5th ave from East 60th to East 77th due to down trees. Expect delays in the area."
Update (5:22 pm): A witness described the scene to the Times (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/person-killed-by-falling-tree-in-central-park/?src=twt&twt=CityRoom): "It was obviously a direct hit to his head ... There was this big pool of blood spreading through the snow. It was horrifying." The Post (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/man_killed_by_tree_in_central_park_U2v7kd97tyccjta Xn0RV9O) reports the incident occurred on Literary Walk, a pedestrian mall lined on both sides by large trees. According to the Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/02/25/2010-02-25_snowcovered_tree_branch_snaps_kills_man_walking _in_central_park.html), it remains unclear if anyone was injured when tree limbs fell on a bus and car on Fifth Avenue, though MyFoxNY (http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/local_news/manhattan/falling-branch-kills-man-in-central-park-100225) says a single passenger was aboard the BxM3 bus at the time, and "[n]o one was seriously hurt."
By Ben Muessig (http://gothamist.com/profile/bmuessig) in News (http://gothamist.com/news) on February 25, 2010 4:20 PM

February 25th, 2010, 06:33 PM
Yikes this is sad.

February 25th, 2010, 07:16 PM
This is very sad, I hope the best happen to the victim's family. (Obviously, the suspect is snow + tree, but both are because of mother nature who cannot be convicted...)

February 27th, 2010, 12:24 AM
In New York’s Parks, a Snowy Day of Beauty and Caution


Trees in Central Park remained laden with heavy snow Friday at 59th Street,
about 10 blocks from where a falling limb killed Mr. Qyra, 46, on Thursday.

It looked like a typical snow day on Friday in Central Park. With schools closed, children took to the hills, armed with their sleds and their laughter.

But there were signs of the dangers from above, dangers that many New Yorkers accustomed to the power failures and minor inconveniences of snowstorms tend to overlook: fallen tree limbs, cordoned off by police tape.

Elmaz Qyra, 46, a busboy who had just gotten off work at the New York Athletic Club, was walking alone through Central Park shortly before 3:30 p.m. Thursday, when he stepped under an American elm tree near 69th Street. Mr. Qyra, a father of two and a native of Albania who came to the United States in 1998, was struck in the head and killed by a branch that snapped and fell.

Parks officials said the branch and dozens of other trees and limbs in Central Park and around New York City were toppled by an accumulation of “wet, unusually heavy snow.” At about 4:30 p.m. Friday, they were forced to essentially evacuate Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights because of falling snow-covered trees and hanging limbs, while around the city in parks and on streets, 174 s calls had been made to the 311 system to report fallen trees and downed or hanging limbs.

“Normally, tree damage is the result of wind,” said Adrian Benepe, the city’s parks commissioner. “Having trees and large limbs come down simply because of the weight of the snow is a phenomenon that has been very rarely witnessed. I can’t recall anything like it.”

The winter storm that walloped the Northeast on Thursday and Friday left hundreds of thousands without power from New Jersey to Maine and gave children in New York City their second snow day of the year. In Monroe, about 60 miles north of the city, the snowfall totaled 32 inches from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon.

Central Park had 20.9 inches by 7 p.m., the fourth largest snowfall in its history and the largest since the record, 26.9 inches, in 2006. The 36.9 inches that have fallen this month made it snowiest February on record, surpassing February 1934, at 27.9 inches.

On the New Jersey Turnpike, speed restrictions were imposed intermittently. More than 1,000 flights were canceled at the three major airports operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a spokesman said. None of the three airports — Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International — ever closed, but controllers at Newark alternated runways, using one while the other was plowed.

Few New Yorkers in slushy Central Park seemed to worry about falling tree branches. A section of the walkway where Mr. Qyra was killed was closed off on Friday with yellow tape and metal barriers. Otherwise the scene was sublime. Rows of 80-year-old snow-white elms lined either side of a 40-foot-wide mall, the tall branches looking like a ceiling overhead. The southern end of the mall where the branch fell is known as Literary Walk, with the statues of Shakespeare and other writers looking on. The limb that had fallen remained on the ground on Friday, covered in snow.

A short walk away, dozens of children coasted on sleds down a tall Central Park hill facing Fifth Avenue near East 79th Street. Not far from the foot of the hill, a long branch had peeled away from a tall tree and crashed to the ground. The limb lay in the snow surrounded by yellow tape. Scott Newman, 11, trudged past it, dragging a plastic sled, accompanied by Conner Williams, 29, who was watching him Friday.

“Do you want to get out of here?” Scott asked.

“Yeah,” Mr. Williams replied. “Before a tree falls.”

The two explained that earlier in the day a branch had fallen a few hundred feet from them and that park workers had cautioned them to stay in the open as much as possible. But they were not alarmed. “It’s probably more dangerous to be standing in the middle of the sleds right now than it is to be standing under a tree,” Mr. Williams said.

Mr. Benepe, the parks commissioner, described the elm trees on the pathway where Mr. Qyra had been walking as some of the most cared-for trees in the country. They are looked after daily by the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit agency that runs the park for New York City.

“They’re constantly monitored for Dutch elm disease and other diseases and dead branches,” Mr. Benepe said. “The branch that fell was a live branch, not a dead branch.”

Following Mr. Qyra’s death, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department took the unusual step of advising New Yorkers to avoid city parks Thursday evening. On Friday, an advisory on the department’s Web site urged people to use caution in parks and near street trees. In Central Park, a total of 26 trees fell, and at least 12 other trees were damaged, some by falling limbs.

Last July, Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, a 33-year-old computer scientist, suffered severe brain and spinal cord damage when a four-inch-thick limb broke from a tree and hit him in the head while he was walking through Central Park near 64th Street. He and his wife have sued the city and the conservancy, saying the limb was rotted and unsafe and should have been cut down.

Mr. Benepe said the only way to completely prevent trees or branches from falling was to cut down all the trees, and he said New Yorkers should not be worried about the stability of the snow-lined limbs in Central Park. The conservancy has been surveying trees in the park and removing hanging branches. He said Fort Tryon Park, where 31 trees fell and 40 limbs were hanging, was expected to reopen on Saturday. “There is no reason to believe that anything else might happen like that,” he said, referring to the accident that killed Mr. Qyra.

Mr. Qyra, who lived in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn, was remembered by co-workers at the New York Athletic Club on Central Park South as a well-liked man who ate his lunch in the locker room. He worked as a busboy in the Tap Room on the second floor and in the club’s main dining room on the 11th floor. “I just ate lunch with him yesterday,” said Tamesh Kallichkran, 27, a longtime porter for the club, who was clearing snow on Friday in front of the building. “He was talking about his family. He had two kids. It was always all about his family.”

With his wife of 20 years, Naxhije, Mr. Qyra had two teenagers: Erisa, 18, and Kleo, 14. Erisa has maintained stellar grades in high school, an accomplishment that Mr. Qyra often boasted about, said his brother-in-law, Gaz Bajrami, 39, an emergency room nurse. She has been accepted to a number of colleges, but is holding out for Fordham University, and dreams of becoming a lawyer. “He was so proud of his children,” Mr. Bajrami said.

Before working at the athletic club, Mr. Qyra took jobs in construction and restaurants, and he and his wife eventually saved enough money to buy a two-story red brick home on a tree-lined street in Dyker Heights.
“He did well. He worked seven days a week and he was able to educate his children very well,” Mr. Bajrami said. “He reached the American dream.”

Mr. Bajrami was not sure why Mr. Qyra decided to walk through the park on Thursday. He was on his way home, and perhaps he had planned to stop at a store, Mr. Bajrami said. “I don’t know how this happened,” he added.
A wake will be held Monday. Mr. Qyra’s wife and children decided against sending his body back to Albania, Mr. Bajrami said. They wanted to keep him close.


February 27th, 2010, 03:24 AM
You never know when your number is up. As I was reading the initial post about the man in Central Park, my mind wandered a bit. It occurred to me that this story would fit well into a dusty 100 year old newspaper found in an attic somewhere. Out of all the hazards we live with today, this timeless one caught him. I hope he didn't suffer.
None of us will get out alive.
Which one will catch me?, I wonder. Which one will catch you?

February 27th, 2010, 03:50 AM
^Maybe this will help...


February 27th, 2010, 10:32 PM
I just had to laugh at the warnings to avoid the park.

OK, how many people have been kileld by falling tree limbs... EVER?

Somehow we all have to avoid the park because there is a minor MINOR chance of being hit by a falling tree branch?

We are so litigation happy it is not funny. I wonder if his family will try to sue God.

February 28th, 2010, 12:01 AM
I agree, and I'm tired of how the media blows all these freak stories out of proportion, and they make these snow storms sound like fire & brimstone is falling.

Perhaps the point is to freak out people enough 'til they're afraid to leave their homes. Then they'll tune in all day.

March 2nd, 2010, 12:41 PM
The entire time I lived in NYC, I can't recall anybody anywhere in the City being threatened or harmed by falling trees or tree branches-- and there were several major snowstorms during my tenure.

Still, it has been an unusual year for New York's trees, what with the numerous windstorms that have knocked down trees in Brooklyn, Central Park , etc.
Now comes what has been described as "record-breaking" snowfall, not once but several times this season.
And NYC has not got an exclusive when it comes to bizarre weather. Already this winter, places like Philly, DC, Baltimore, etc, have seen more snow so far this season than they usually see in a whole Winter--AND, the snow season still has a few months to go before the weather finally warms up again.
Here in Central Florida, I have endured the coldest winter I have seen in 36 years of residing in the Sunshine State.

The first couple weeks in January, the weather got so cold that it actually snowed here in Ocala, a phenomonen not seen in 30 years; we have had dozens of temperatures below 32 degrees, including a 5-day stretch of temps in the freaking TEENS at night and there has been actual SLEET falling. Most of my carefully- tended palm trees have been killed by the cold and my once green lawn has been fried to a beige color by the cold. THAT has never happened in the 10 years I have been in my house. The last couple of weeks have seen a dozen nights where it is near freezing, and morning frost has become somewhat common.

Average daytime temps here average in the low 70s, but so far this year there have been only a couple days where it was above 70.

I'm beginning to realize some credence when it comes to climate change, but I am not yet about to embrace Al Gore's Global Warming pronouncements.
Let's see what NEXT winter brings...

March 2nd, 2010, 01:08 PM
Same thing here in Houston, Hof. ... just that we have been getting it a few days before you. Same thing with our beautiful palm trees. About 90% of them around here are scorced brown. I have a friend in the palm tree business. He has a farm where he grows them to sell. He figures it will take at least two years for him to recover.

March 2nd, 2010, 02:11 PM
195, the ONLY upside for your friend is that he wasn't the only one that lost them. The quicker he can recover, the more people he will have that will want to buy....

June 27th, 2010, 12:55 AM
Falling Branch Kills Baby at the Central Park Zoo


The branch, left, fell in front of the sea lion exhibit at the zoo.

A baby girl was killed and her mother critically injured when a tree branch fell and struck them just outside the Central Park Zoo on Saturday, the police said.

The accident occurred about 1:45 p.m. on the promenade in front of the sea lion exhibit.

The mother, 33, was holding the 6-month-old girl and posing for a photograph taken by her husband when a large branch about 30 feet above them snapped, the police said.

The branch struck the woman, and she fell to the ground, her baby in her arms.

The police identified the girl as Gianna Riccuitti of Union City, N.J. They did not release the names of her parents.

Gianna and her mother were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital. Medics responded at 1:50 p.m., and the woman and baby arrived at the hospital at 2:03 p.m., a Fire Department spokesman said. The baby was pronounced dead, and her mother was reported in critical condition.

A security guard at the zoo said he heard a loud crack, like a thunderclap, and saw the branch plummet. After the mother fell, members of her family shrieked, the guard said, and her husband began screaming and jumping around. “He was going crazy,” the guard said.

The area was sealed off with police tape, but the zoo remained open. By midafternoon, it was business as usual at the park, with children watching park workers feed fish to the sea lions, steps from the fallen branch.

Because it was within the zoo limits, the tree is maintained by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, the parks department said.

In a statement, the society said it wished to send its “sincerest condolences to the individuals involved in today’s accident.” A spokesman said he could not comment further due to the police investigation, which was continuing.

It was the third time in less than a year that someone had been harmed or killed by a falling tree branch in Central Park.

On Feb. 25, a 46-year-old man was killed (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/nyregion/26tree.html) when a large branch, weighed down by snow, snapped off and struck him.

The man, Elmaz Qyra of Brooklyn, was killed as he walked along a picturesque stretch called Literary Walk, so named because of its statues of Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. He was declared dead at the scene.

On July 30, a computer engineer who worked for Google was seriously injured (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/man-hurt-by-falling-tree-limb-in-central-park-files-suit) when a rotting branch fell 20 feet from a large pin oak.

The engineer, Sasha J. Blair-Goldensohn, 33, was struck near the entrance of the park at Central Park West and West 63rd Street.


June 27th, 2010, 09:31 AM
A few weeks ago, walking down Broadway in front of the Javits Federal Building at Thomas Street, I noticed a large broken branch above some benches; it was partially cracked open revealing a large area of freshly exposed tree -- seemingly ripe for breaking off and crashing down. There were three people sitting on the bench just below, so I pointed it out and they moved. I also gave the info to a uniformed person of some sort who was outside the Javits building.

Yesterday I noticed that the same broken branch is still up there, untrimmed and waiting to fall.

You'd think that someone of rank, either at the Javits building (where there are umpteen security cameras all about) or at DOT / NYC Parks would have noticed this and removed the risk. It's the fifth tree north of Worth Street on the east side of Broadway.

June 27th, 2010, 01:03 PM
My heart goes out to the family and friends. May the mother somehow make it through this horrible trauma.
3 times in a year is crazy, isn't it?

June 27th, 2010, 01:32 PM
As our trees get more mature we will see more of this.

June 27th, 2010, 05:21 PM
lofter, call 311.

That's the number I call when I see tree branches that are in danger of falling. They send out crews to take care of it usually within a day or two.

June 28th, 2010, 06:46 AM
Accident at Park Puts Focus on Trees



The accident occurred on a glorious, postcard-ready summer afternoon in New York, free of the usual culprits of lightning or snow. A large, healthy tree branch, 30 feet above a well-traveled path just outside the Central Park Zoo, snapped, fell and killed a 6-month-old girl as horrified visitors looked on.

The accident, which occurred in one of the park’s most popular locales, could be viewed as a freak occurrence. But it is also the latest in a string of deadly episodes that have plagued the park in the past year, all involving tree branches that abruptly plummeted to earth, killing or seriously injuring passers-by.

It has been years since New Yorkers wondered whether Central Park is safe. But the alarming frequency of the accidents has turned a spotlight on the trees, and whether the entities that oversee the park are doing enough to safeguard the public.

On Sunday, the city’s parks department said it did not know why the branch had fallen, killing the 6-month-old, Gianna Riccuitti, and critically injuring her mother, Karla DelGallo, 33. Furthermore, the city acknowledged that it did not know who was responsible for the upkeep of the tree.

“The investigation as to why the limb fell is ongoing, as is a review of specific responsibility for tree maintenance,” Vickie Karp, a parks spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Generally, the park’s 26,000 trees are overseen by the Central Park Conservancy, the private nonprofit group that has maintained nearly full oversight of the park’s operations and horticulture since 1998, under a formal agreement with the city.

But officials at the conservancy, which counts many of the city’s political and financial elite as members, would not say on Sunday whether the tree was under their purview or if they were conducting their own investigation.

The group referred questions to the police or the zoo’s operator, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is considered by the city to be responsible for the maintenance and operation of the zoo and its environs.

But the society would not say on Sunday whether it was responsible for the tree. Reached by telephone, a spokesman, Max Pulsinelli, said he could not comment beyond a brief statement expressing condolences for the accident’s victims. Ms. DelGallo remained in critical but stable condition at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center on Sunday.

Park officials have said that it is impossible to ensure the safety of every single tree in the park, and the conservancy spends upward of half a million dollars annually on tree maintenance.
“It should be minimized,” said Henry J. Stern, a former city parks commissioner. “It is impossible to prevent this completely.”

Still, the question of how closely the trees are tracked has now been raised in the courts.

A lawsuit, filed by the family of a Brooklyn man who was killed by a falling branch in February, claims that the conservancy was negligent in removing the tree, which stood at the east side of the park near 69th Street.

The family’s lawyer, Alan M. Shapey, said the tree had been deemed dangerous by the conservancy in December 2009 and had been given a high priority for removal. But the American elm stood untreated for two more months, until the day of the death of the man, Elmaz Qyra, according to the lawsuit. Officials at the conservancy did not respond on Sunday to those claims.

“Why would that tree be there two and a half months after it should have been removed?” Mr. Shapey said in an interview. “Are they waiting for funds? For equipment?”

“I can’t be walking through Central Park looking up at the trees, wondering which one is going to hit me,” he added. “Do I have to wear a hardhat?”

A lawsuit is also pending in the case of Sasha J. Blair-Goldensohn, 33, a Google employee who was struck in the head in July by a rotting four-inch-thick branch on the west side of the park. He survived but suffered from brain and spinal damage.

On Sunday, the mood on the zoo’s promenade was nearly back to normal. Many parkgoers did not appear to notice the broken tree limb above the site of Saturday’s accident.

“The other trees should be roped off,” said Gary Frumberg, 72, who was seated on a nearby bench. “You would think there would be a more concerted effort to inspect all the branches.”

Mr. Frumberg, who said he often brought his grandchildren to the zoo, said he was now nervous about making future visits. “When I come here now, I’m going to be looking up at the trees,” he said.

Johnnie Lacend, 51, said the accident would not keep him from making the trip to the zoo with his daughter and grandson. But the death “did freak us out,” he said.

Mr. Stern, who served as parks commissioner for 16 years, said he could not recall three such accidents in Central Park in a single year.

Recalling his own stewardship of the park, Mr. Stern said its trees could be an unpredictable bunch.

“The trees that you think are the problem trees are not the ones that fall,” he said. “It’s not predictable. When there was an accident, it was some tree we had never thought about.”


June 28th, 2010, 08:00 AM
A lawsuit, filed by the family of a Brooklyn man who was killed by a falling branch in February, claims that the conservancy was negligent in removing the tree, which stood at the east side of the park near 69th Street.

Yeah! What's with these trees being in the park!!!!

I mean, 3 people out of how many, 25 million, in a year? I have to start wearing my hard had too!!!

But seriously, I feel for these people. I think the tree in the zoo is more liable than just a random one along a path. You should be more attentive to the trees in areas where people will be congregating. But saying that all of them should be kept up is rather hard when you KNOW the group doing so is probably understaffed and underfunded.

Cure? Sue them, and the city. THAT will get them to spend more time and money investigating the reason for this and appointing new staff to handle these rampant tree attacks.

July 3rd, 2010, 12:12 PM
Damn terrorists. Now they are using trees! Kill the trees - save america!