Sunday, May 27, 2012

Neglected, Rotting Trees Turn Deadly

The sharp and sudden crack! broke the summer calm.

Alexis Handwerker had been sitting on a bench beneath a towering elm in Stuyvesant Square Park in Manhattan — now she was pinned to the ground, bleeding, disoriented and smothered by leaves. One arm was rammed back unnaturally, broken. Panicked parkgoers struggled to free her from a huge tree limb that had plummeted 30 feet.

“I don’t want to die,” she screamed. “I don’t want to die.”

Ms. Handwerker, a 29-year-old social worker, survived the July 2007 accident with grievous injuries, and sued. Her lawyers pieced together evidence that untrained parks workers had missed signs that the elm was rotting — even though the 80-foot tree, one of the biggest in New York City, had sent limbs crashing down before. The city settled in February, paying $4 million. Read More