Central Park tree falls on mother holding infant son, trapping her, FDNY says

A Central Park tree fell across West Drive on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.
A Central Park tree fell across West Drive on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. Photo Credit: Jay Saenz

A woman walking with her three young children in Central Park Tuesday morning was struck and pinned by a large tree. All four were taken to the hospital after the woman was freed around 10:10 a.m., the FDNY said.

The family was treated at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries, the NYPD said.

The mother was pushing her boys, ages 4 and 2, in a stroller and carrying her infant son when the tree fell, officer Meghan O’Leary of the NYPD’s Mounted Unit said. 

The woman was hit in the head and was in and out of consciousness as the FDNY worked to remove the tree, FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer said. After cutting some limbs off the tree to prevent it from rolling, firefighters were able to remove it from her about nine minutes after initially receiving the call, he said.

After she was struck, the infant son was on his mother, O’Leary said, and he was quickly removed by civilians before the horseback unit arrived. He had scrapes and bruises and was crying, O’Leary said.

Civilians and the NYPD worked together to clear debris and smaller branches from the mother, officer Joseph Tomeo of the Mounted Unit said, before the FDNY arrived with chainsaws.

Antonio Russo of Williamsburg was riding his bike about 100 yards away when the tree fell near West 62nd Street.

“I heard a huge crack,” Russo, 57, said. “It was like slow motion coming down. Initially I didn’t think anyone was under there.” 

Russo said he saw the woman pushing a stroller prior to the incident. After she was released from underneath, “she was hysterical,” he said. “She just really wanted her baby.”

While it’s too early to tell why the tree fell, Geoffrey Croft, the president of NYC Park Advocates said, a tree’s health often plays a role.

“We look for if the tree is dead, dying or diseased,” Croft said. “Obviously it’s very tragic what happened here today, so we want to figure out why the tree fell.”

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