Falling Tree Smashes Park Bench, Narrowly Misses Woman and Children


Photo by Barbara Migdal.

A large section of a tree fell in Riverside Park on Monday afternoon, smashing a bench underneath and nearly hitting a woman and two children, according to a witness.

The tree fell across a bike and walking path just outside a dog run in the West 80’s around 1 p.m., according to Adrienne H. “Injuries were luckily minor scrapes, and I reported the fallen tree to 311. They filed a report and said Parks & Rec would investigate in the next 8 days and resolve the issue in the next 45 days,” she wrote. The area was cordoned off with caution tape.

The Parks Department told us that foresters would visit the site on Tuesday and remove debris.


Photo by Adrienne H.


Photo by Adrienne H.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Bill Williams says:

      I wonder if CB7 will propose cutting down all the trees as a means of protecting us?

      • stu says:

        No, they are proposing to have a protected walking lane as a prophylactic measure against future accidents.

      • Barry says:

        Do not be so flippant. Some have suffered greatly from falling tree branches.

        • Tim Keating says:

          When walking in wooded areas, it is always a risk. Nature doesn’t exist such that no human is ever harmed. We must relearn how to co-exist with the natural world. The thinking that says we can scrub all risk from it is the same thinking that has enabled us to largely wipe it out.

    2. Jacq. says:

      I take my clients (Triplet toddlers) to the park all the time & there are fallen branches and trees ALL THE TIME. It’s a preventable tragedy waiting to happen.

      • LC says:

        How is it preventable? Sure, the parks department can reduce the odds of an accident by regularly pruning trees, but you can never eliminate the chance of a falling tree limb hitting someone. This is especially true of some of the fast-growing species that were once widely planted in city parks. This limb looks like it came off a black locust. Black locust trees were once a favorite for planting in NYC parks because of their fast growth rate; however, they can become invasive and are known for brittle wood. So, even if you regularly prune them, they will sometimes drop a perfectly-healthy looking limb.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        Preventable? I mean, trees can be inspected, but how is this preventable? By staying on the sofa?

    3. Kathy says:

      Was it a Bradford pear tree? Despite its deserved bad reputation developers are still using it around their properties.

    4. Dave O. says:

      I would love to see fewer trees in Riverside and more sunshine coming through.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        Yeah, get rid of the trees! They serve no purpose but to block sun! Great idea!

        • Carnival Canticle says:

          While they’re at it, why not asphalt the grass? Less maintenance, fewer allergic reactions.

      • Carlos says:

        Get rid of trees and turn the space into bike lanes and all of our problems are solved!

      • Tim Keating says:

        There are many, many treeless places in the city to choose from. Perhaps you could stroll on a street, instead of suggesting cutting more trees from a still-natural place? Forests — even those young, not-very-diverse ones in the few parks — support innumerable other life forms. The world doesn’t serve solely at our pleasure, even though Civilization seems to think so. A little humility is what’s needed to save the future of Earth for the future of humans. We have to relearn how to navigate the natural world, rather than bending it to our every little convenience.

    5. Tim Keating says:

      The irony of a black locust tree smashing a bench made of tropical hardwoods wasn’t missed by this rainforest wood activist. Rainforest Relief worked for years to get NYC Parks to consider and finally test black locust wood for benches and eventually the Boardwalk. The wood, known now globally ofr its durability, has been very successful for benches, as an alternative to the ipê and cumaru that were used since the ’80s by Parks, helping to wipe out the Amazon.

      Surely this incident is a message to the city from one tree, aware that so many others are burning. Ipê grows in a density of one or two individuals per acre in the Amazon. Loggers tyipcall kill half the canopy as they hunt for single high-value ipê trees and others, mostly illegally. The US is the largest importer by dollar value of wood from the Amazon region, fueling the logging, which in turn is the single largest factor leading to deforestation. So, while the world looks at agriculture as the main driver of the fires, logging — the cause that the UN has cited sa precipitating 70% of agriculture clearing — still goes largely unaddressed. And Parks and other agencies, municipal agencies around the US, for whom ipê is a go-to wood, architects designing decks and exteriors with it and other tropical hardwoods, and homeowners who just *have* to have their exotic wood floors and outdoor furniture, are participating in bringing about the slaughter of the Amazon.

      Perhaps in honor of the young people protesting climate change, this black locust tree has clearly sent a directive to look closer to home for bench material that’s actually more durable than ipê. It seems the extinction rebellion has been joined by other, non-human beings. Will we heed the message?

      For an extensive list of alternatives to tropical hardwoods, see Rainforest Relief’s “Avoiding Wood from Endangered Forests” (http://www.rainforestrelief.org/documents/Guidelines.pdf). For consultation to identify and find truly sustainable woods for your project, email info@earthbilt.com.