Tree Falls On a Group of People in Riverside Park, Causing Multiple Injuries


Photo by Helen Miller.

A tree fell in Riverside Park around 92nd Street on Wednesday around 6 p.m., hitting at least three people and causing serious injuries, according to two witnesses and the FDNY.

“At 6:10 pm this afternoon, a huge branch broke off a tree in Riverside Park at 91st Street,” witness Helen Miller wrote to us. “It injured four people who had been sitting on the grass enjoying the end of what had been a beautiful afternoon. Two people were briefly pinned under the tree. Two others were hurt. Witnesses said two of the victims briefly lost consciousness, all four suffered from head injuries.”


Photo by Helen Miller.

“It appears that tree trimming work had been going on in that section of the park but was not in progress when the branch broke. Police from the 24th precinct as well as officers from the emergency service unit and the FDNY came with chainsaws and helped to rescue the victims.”

An FDNY spokesman told us three people were listed as injured and taken to St. Luke’s Hospital. Their conditions were not immediately available.

Bob Jones, another witness who also helped lift the tree off of the people, said it appeared there were four injuries, including two that were “pretty bad.” He took the photos below.

A Parks Department spokesperson wrote that they will “follow up tomorrow with a full inspection of the tree to attempt to determine the cause of limb failure.”

NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Grumpy Old Man says:

      This unfortunate event requires that Mark Levine and Helen Rosenthal demand the NYC Department of Parks and the Riverside Park Conservancy create an inventory of trees in the park, their maintenance history and a plan for the routine pruning of of the trees within the park. Simply put, the park requires both money and good management. Public safety requires no less.

    2. Edward Soloway says:

      The trees on this hill have been a clear danger in plain sight for years. Today’s was not the first to fall. Parks and Forestry know all about them.

      There are additional overhanging dead branches along the promenade in the 80’s & 90’s.

      I’m angry ! I walk that path every day, often at the time that today’s tree fell.

      It’s outrageous that park enthusiasts are unknowingly at risk of serious injury from falling trees and branches!

    3. Mark Moore says:

      I saw the aftermath and them removing victims. The limb that fell is bigger than most trees.

    4. The limb that fell was actually a second trunk of the tree. Another tree fell a few weeks ago nearby (the stump is still raw and visible). After that first tree fell, the tree company Asplundt was in that area for several days pruning and cutting away dead branches. This tree looked healthy — you can see how full of green leaves it is. But you can also see how rotten it was at the base.
      It was on the slope going up from the path around grove to the retaining wall. I had walked past several minutes earlier. It was idyllic — so many people and families out safely distancing under the trees with the slanting sun making it magical. Now it feels as if the park itself, our escape, is a danger. Very sad.

      • UrbanMole says:

        K.B. All trees pose some level of risk.
        Yet the time for NYC Parks / RPC and its arborists to inspect the trees for risk condition is before the branch failure occurs- not afterwards. How humorous that Parks stated that they will now inspect the tree.

        Pruning trees for deadwood is one thing.
        Quantitatively assessing trees for structural integrity and the risk that they pose to the passing public is another.
        Plain and simple, someone likely missed this tree during their assessment. If in fact an assessment actually took place.
        You need to demand that their independent Arborist is performing his due diligence to ensure the safety of the public in this park. Bearing in mind that the government workers that run the park are unable to do so.

        • Boris says:

          Maybe if there weren’t so many government park workers standing around doing nothing, the park would have a bigger budget for tree inspection. I see them congregating every day and just sitting in their trucks with nothing to do. With all the park facilities closed, it doesn’t make sense that these workers need to be there getting paid for nothing.

          • PutThemToWork says:

            Why haven’t they figured out how to make productive use of these underemployed workers? There’s plenty they can do in the parks if they were managed properly. For instance, why can’t they find a way to reopen access to public restrooms in some of these Riverside Park playgrounds? I find it difficult to enjoy use of the park without bathrooms available.

    5. Irena says:

      And why aren’t two of the emergency team transporting that man on a stretcher wearing masks? ONe is leaning right over the face of the person on the stretecher (who doesn’t have a mask on but it may have been removed for treatment).

      Hope these folks are going to be allright. That is one big “branch”.

      We walk that area all the time.

    6. Concerned Treehogger says:

      Can someone do a check on the history of tree sickness and trees falling in Riverside Park? It seems to me like there have been a lot of trees getting sick and falling over in the past years. Is it accelerating or is this just what trees do? What factors are contributing to this? Pollution? EMFs? Something else? Sometimes when they take down a tree and cut it up into chunks those chunks are left there for a while… And often you can see that they are sick from within. Yesterday I walked by one chunk of a tree trunk that was stuck in a fence or a tree had fallen over the fence in a more wild area. I don’t know how long that’s been there. But the more you look the more you see. There are one or two humongous trunks near 120th St. that seem to have perished due to some kind of rot within.

    7. tex says:

      if work was being done or just done the area should have been blocked off! hope the victoms will be ok and get to sue big time!

      • Nancy says:

        How pathetic this is your first thought. You are a money grubbing fool and your attitude is disgusting. Nature is nature, and yes, the trees probably need more oversight. It’s unfortunate but sue? Maybe we should just close all the parks for good and keep everyone safe. Please, stay in your house. That’s where you belong.

    8. Ira Gershenhorn says:

      I wonder what the effect of heavy rains and obvious pooling of water has on the often shallow roots of trees. I know that wet grand makes pulling elm seedlings very easy. Does it also make a shallow rooted try easier to topple?

    9. DaveO says:

      A fallen tree branch missed me by about 50 ft. one day over the summer as I sat on a bench in Riverside park at 96th street. It was strange – no sound until it hit the ground. You would think you could hear the wood spitting first, that you could jump out of the way but no. I was thinking this is how people get honked on the head by tree limbs in here.

    10. Michael UWS says:

      Somehow UWS upper Riverside Park 72 to 100s is akin to a red headed step child of NYC parks in terms of ground stewardship, lawn maintenance, ntm infrastructure. Exhibit A: compare ANY of the lawns and groundskeeping in Central Park, whi comparatively are favored with well maintained, properly seeded, seasonally beautified & curated ready for summer months, (for which I am grateful). Yet lovely but poor RP recreationally sub optimal in utility and comparison. But it neednt be so; it just needs more priority fiscal allowance for restorative care and grounds work.