Fallen tree injures jogger

Fallen tree injures jogger

Fallen tree injures jogger

Print
Email
|

by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and Photojournalist Chris Shadrock

KVUE

Posted on August 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 26 at 9:30 AM

AUSTIN -- Trees are the lungs of our city. But this weekend, one runner learned they can also be dangerous.

A dead tree on Butler Trail fell on the jogger Saturday afternoon. First responders took him to the hospital with a leg injury.

"They had a man on a rolling stretcher, he was on a back board with a neck brace on," said Austin Parks and Recreatopm board member Hill Abell. "There was a large tree right across the middle of the trail."

A stump is all that's left of the estimated 18 foot tree now. Abell happened to be on the trail when it fell.

"I think it's a pretty random thing that a tree would fall on somebody, but I think it heightens the fact that we have so many dead trees in Austin right now," Abell said, "I think the parks department and the forestry department is grossly underfunded."

Trees deemed unsafe are marked with signs and orange paint, meaning at some point they'll be taken down.

"The problem is forestry is so under-manned and they have so little equipment they can't get to the trees and remove them in a timely manner," Abell claimed.

"The bark isn't even on it," said non-profit Tree Folks Executive Director April Rose looking at the stump. "That tree has been dead for a long time."

Rose said population growth combined with the drought is putting stress on Austin trees.

"The city basically has a deferred maintenance on its trees," Rose said. "We're looking at them and inspecting them once every 90 years and that's unreasonable. It's unacceptable."

Rose said while this is a random accident there are things you can do to identify dead trees. She said the tree that fell Saturday is a Hackberry tree. There are no leaves on any of the branches and the bark rips right apart. According to Rose, these are both signs of a dead tree.

"If they notice a large cavity or hole in a tree that's certainly something to call into 311 and give them the nearest cross section or point of reference," Rose said. "Looking up is always a good idea."

"Everybody is at a small amount of risk when they're out here at city parks because we have so much difficulty keeping up with the maintenance that is necessary to ensure public safety," Abell added.

Abell said the board is asking city council to budget more money for the department so accidents like this one don't happen again.

Earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott revealed details on his settlement from a similar accident. A tree fell on him in 1984 and he has used a wheelchair ever since. The 55-year-old has received $5 million so far, which is more than $14,000 a month.

Print
Email
|