August 24, 2013
By Dawn Denny, Omar Lewis
AUSTIN (KXAN) – A dead tree fell on a jogger on the Butler Trail near the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department headquarters building at 200 South Lamar at Riverside Drive.
Witnesses say it happened around 12:30 p.m. Saturday. They say the 29-year-old man received help from good Samaritans before paramedics arrived.
Arborists say it’s a situation we could see more often thanks to the severe drought.
“He has a broken femur, he has broken ribs, he has broken vertebrae, and he had a severe gash on his head,” said the victim’s aunt, Yolanda Rodriguez Pacheco. “He’s lucky because doctors say he could’ve been paralyzed.
April Rose, an arborist with TreeFolks says the incident could’ve happened to anyone.
“If an individual is distracted or if they have their headphones in they’re not going to hear a potential crack,” she said.
After examining the dead tree Rose says it was probably dead for years and the trunk was completely decomposed.
“If the city and citizens don’t become more engaged in our parks it is likely we will see more accidents of this nature unfortunately,” said Rose.
Rose says right now the city doesn’t have the means or the funds to go around and tag every dead tree, which can lead to more accidents like what happened Saturday.
The City of Austin Park’s Department is asking the city for more money to provide preventative maintenance like pruning and mulching, at our parks.
Experts say the drought effects along with an increase in park traffic has added stress to the trees.
For Yolanda and her family she’s now wanting answers and someone from the city to take responsibility for what happened to her nephew.
“I understand that this is public land,” she said. “But at the same time you can’t just have something like this happen and have to go through several surgeries for the city to say I’m sorry.”
Currently trees in the city are rarely inspected. There are 300,000 trees on public lands in Austin. The drought is hitting them hard. Drought conditions killed 30,000 trees in 2011 alone.
Next Tuesday at city hall a press conference will be held to lobby for $4.6 million in funding for park upgrades .
The city will hold its final budget hearing next Thursday.
If you spot a dead tree on your next visit to the park the city is asking that you contact 311 to report it.
Read the story and watch the report that aired on KXAN on August 24th, here: http://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/falling-tree-injures-jogger