This month we saw the extremely tragic case of Karla and Gianna Ricciutti, a mother and daughter who were standing under a tree in the Central Park Zoo when a branch fell, killing the six-month-old baby and leaving the mother with a traumatic brain injury. While some, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are saying that the tree branch accident was a freak accident, others are pointing out that this is the third such accident to take place in Central Park in less than a year.
In February, 46-year-old Elmaz Qyra of Brooklyn was killed by a branch in Central Park that authorities say was weighed down by snow. On the same day, a nearby tree struck a bus. The family of Qyra is now suing the city for wrongful death, stating that the Central Park Conservatory meant to remove the dangerous tree from Literary Walk two months before the deadly incident took place.
Last July, on the west side of Central Park, a Google employee and Manhattan resident, was taking a summer stroll when a 100-pound branch broke off and hit the man on the head. The father of two, 33-year-old Sasha Blair-Goldensohn suffered a traumatic brain injury and spinal damage and faced months of recovery and rehabilitation from his injuries. Currently, Blair-Goldensohn and his family are suing the Central Park Conservatory for $120 million because the rotten branch was not seen as a danger and removed.
Many now wonder if the Conservatory is doing a good enough job at locating problem trees, removing dead branches, or barricading dangerous areas of the park. Others believe that it is impossible to say which branches will falter and that these accidents are not preventable. No one can recall a time when so many falling limb accidents had occurred in such a short span of time.