Investigators at the scene of the tragedy in Central Park this afternoon where a 6-month-old girl, Gianna Riccuitti of Union City, N.J. was killed, and her mother injured after a tree branch fell. The victims were rushed to Cornell Hospital where the baby girl was pronounced dead on arrival according to published reports. The accident occurred at approximately 1:30 p.m. on the promenade just outside the Central Park Zoo's sea lion exhibit behind the Parks Department headquarters. A nurse visiting from Germany and another bystander performed CPR on the baby.
A baby girl was killed and her mother critically injured when a tree branch fell and struck them just outside the Central Park Zoo on Saturday, the police said.
The accident occurred about 1:45 p.m. on the promenade in front of the sea lion exhibit.
The mother, 33, was holding the 6-month-old girl and posing for a photograph taken by her husband when a large branch about 30 feet above them snapped, the police said. The branch struck the woman, and she fell to the ground, her baby in her arms.
The police identified the girl as Gianna Riccuitti of Union City, N.J. They did not release the names of her parents.
Gianna and her mother were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital. Medics responded at 1:50 p.m., and the woman and baby arrived at the hospital at 2:03 p.m., a Fire Department spokesman said. The baby was pronounced dead, and her mother was reported in critical condition.
Snapped Tree Branch
A security guard at the zoo said he heard a loud crack, like a thunderclap, and saw the branch plummet. After the mother fell, members of her family shrieked, the guard said, and her husband began screaming and jumping around. “He was going crazy,” the guard said.
The area was sealed off with police tape, but the zoo remained open. By midafternoon, it was business as usual at the park, with children watching park workers feed fish to the sea lions, steps from the fallen branch.
It was the third time in less than a year that someone had been harmed or killed by a falling tree branch in Central Park.
The 33-year old mother of Gianna Riccuitti being rushed to the hospital. She was struck by a falling tree branch while holding her baby. (AP Photo/WPIX-TV)
New York Times - June 26, 2010 - By Cara Buckley