Monday, August 5, 2013

Rotted Tree Killed Pregnant Woman In Kissena Park

City's Lack of Tree Maintance and Inspections Slammed

The remains of the park bench where Yingyi Li-Dikov, 30, was tragically killed last night in Kissena Park. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge. 

Rotted Tree Stump From Deadly Oak Tree. With the failed oak tree now removed, the remaining tree stump tells a scary story of a slow progression of fungal decay that had been in progress for years if not decades.  The fungal decay known as "butt root" significantly reduced tree wood strength at the trees most vulnerable point- the tree base.  Diminished is the ability for the tree to defy gravity and remain upright eventually failing under its own weight of close to 4-5 tons of tree mass. 

"The tree was hollowed out. It was dead," said several Parks Department workers.   

Thirteen people have been injured by trees over the last eight weeks alone.  


By Geoffrey Croft

A large rotted Oak tree killed a pregnant Queens woman, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Yingyi Li-Dikov, 30, was tragically killed last night while sitting on a park bench enjoying a beautiful Sunday evening in Kissena Park when the diseased Oak tree crushed her. 

Her heart broken husband, Aleksandar Dikov, 20, dressed in his Army National Guard uniform, wept this morning with his parents as he placed flowers beside the crushed bench she was killed on.

Two Park Enforcement Patrol officers stand guard near makeshift memorial.  Yingyi Li-Dikov's husband, Aleksandar, placed flowers up against the bench in a heart breaking moment this morning. 

They were married in June 2012. She was six months pregnant and were expecting a daughter.

The loving couple had just moved back from Texas in March where he was doing basic training in the National Guard.  They were in the process of moving into an apt. on Oak Avenue across the street from the park when this horrific tragedy struck.  

The rotted base of the tree where it snapped. A carefully worded statement by the Parks Department avoided admitting the trees were not inspected.

According to Mr. Dikov, they both used the park daily. 

We have know learned that over the last eight weeks alone 13 people have been injured including last night's horrific tragedy. 

The problems involving the city's trees are widely known. 

The City allocates a fraction of the funds necessary to properly maintain and inspect its more than 2.6 million trees.

The City recently paid out  $ 14.5 million dollars to settle two tree cases in Central Park and has numerous cases pending. 

When will the elected officials allocate the proper funds needed to help AVOID people getting hurt or killed.  

The Parks Department desperately needs personnel to care for its only living infrastructure. 

How many more people have to be injured killed or before the City begins to take this issue seriously.

The Parks Department refused to provide the media with the number of tree inspectors for the more than  2.6 million trees they are legally charged with caring for, or provide the number of dedicated personnel to maintain them. 

Instead, the agency dumped out a statement at 5:00pm meant in part to deceive the media and the public into thinking the trees near the incident were inspected when they were clearly not. The carefully worded statement said the area had "six zone inspections," without specifically mentioning that each tree or any tree had been inspected.   

Besides not taking responsibility for the tragedy, they also stated that the agency is now,  "contracting an independent tree consultant to review all of our tree management procedures."  

"The incident involving a falling tree Sunday in Kissena Park was a tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family.  This oak tree, approximately 70-years old and 50-feet tall, snapped about eight feet from the ground.  The tree is being thoroughly examined to determine more about its condition."

At the time of the statement's release, the agency was fully aware of the tree's condition.  

"NYC Parks is responsible for the maintenance of 2 million trees inside our parks and 600,000 more along NYC streets.  Trees along pathways, roadways and playgrounds inside of parks are regularly inspected by Park Supervisors, augmented by our staff of professional foresters, who look for potential defects. There have been six zone inspections in 2013 in this area of Kissena Park, the last one on June 20.

Last winter, our Supervisors completed a retraining program to better identify defects.  NYC Parks is in the process of contracting an independent tree consultant to review all of our tree management procedures."

The dead 50 foot long Oak tree lays across the staircase and path.

The recent  $ 70 billion dollar budget passed by the Mayor and the City Council allocates just  $ 290 million dollars in tax levy funds for parks maintenance and operation for an agency responsible for 14 percent of the City's land. 

State Senator Tony Avella, who represents the area, blamed the city for neglecting tree maintenance. 

“It’s unacceptable,” he said. “You can’t keep saying it’s an act of God.” 

At a press conference today held near where Yingyi Li-Dikov was killed,  Sen.  Avella called on the Mayor to suspend the Million Tree Program and instead devote those resources to properly maintain and inspect the existing tree inventory. 

"How can the mayor want to plant a million trees if the City cannot even take care of the trees is already has."

Avella has long been a long time critic of the Parks Department's inability and unwillingness to properly maintain city trees and to respond to homeowners requests for tree pruning and tree removals. 

"I have been saying for a while now that people's lives are in danger as a result of the current City tree policy," Avella said in a statement.

The Senator also announced much needed legislation which would require the city to contract with a consulting arborist to inspect, diagnose and analyze for defects and disease all public trees and/or tree parts involved in property damage, personal injury or death within 48 hours and for a report to be issued that is publicly available on-line within 30 days of the inspection.

"The resources and the leadership needed so as to provide the Best Management Practices and highest standard possible to maintain the urban tree asset and public safety has been shifted elsewhere, now with consequences," said noted arborist, Carsten Glaeser,  PHD from Glaeser Horticultural Consulting.    

"Parks & Rec has placed its greater share of resources into new tree plantings by their MillionTree program rather than management activities that would best minimize tree risk to the passing public- especially after storms like Hurricane Sandy," he said.  

On July 6th, Martin Novitsky, was struck in the head by a massive falling tree branch while walking on the Boardwalk near Coney Island. 

Queens Forestry removes the deadly tree this afternoon. 

State Senator Tony Avella, (pictured with noted arborist Carsten Glaeser, and Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates) called on the Mayor to suspend the Million Tree Program and instead devote those resources to properly maintain and inspect the existing tree inventory.  The Senator also announced much needed legislation meant to track such tree incidents. 

Hundreds of dangling tree limbs and dead trees litter the heavily used park. Numerious ones were clearly visible a few feet away from the press conference  including this Black Cherry tree.  The community has long complained about the Parks Department's lack of tree care in Kissena Park which has jeopardized public safety. 

Neighbors including a new mother, gathered at the site this evening. 

The crushed park bench is cordoned off with a metal barricade and wrapped in yellow caution tape this evening. 

Going... It took only a few hours this afternoon for Queens Forestry to remove a long dead  90-year-old Red Oak tree near where the woman was killed near Parsons and Rose Avenues.   "We can't remove them unless we know about them," commented one Forester who admitted they only have a few tree inspectors. 

At least one crew member working here responded to the tragic nearby death of Tony Laino, 30, on October 29, 2012 when a street tree came crashing through his second story bedroom during Hurricane Sandy.  Numerous people reportedly called 311 to complain that the tree was dangerous and needed to be taken down.  



Read/View More:

WCBS/1010 WINS -  August 6, 2013 

New York Daily News - August 5, 2013 - By Nicholle Buckley, Barry Paddock, Jennifer Fermino and Corky Siemaszko

New York Post - August 5, 2013 - By Lia Eustachewich, Sally Goldenberg and Bruce Golding 

WCBS - August 5, 2013 - By   Alice Gainer 

WPIX - August 5, 2013 - By Narmeen Choudhury   

WNBC - August 6, 2013 -  By Jen Maxfield and Brynn Gingras  

WNBC - August 5, 2013 - By Brynn Gingras  

New York Daily News - August 5, 2013 - Taylor Flowers

WABC - August 5, 2013 - By Lucy Yang 

New York Times - August 5, 2013 - By SARAH MASLIN NIR 

Pregnant Woman Killed By Tree In Queens Park
A Walk In The Park - August 4, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

Woman Struck By Large Branch In East Harlem - 9th Tree Injury In 7 Weeks
A Walk In The Park - July 30, 2013

1 comment:

  1. Sorry but all the tree inspectors are busy in Manhattan parks. There's no interest on the part of Bloomberg (and eventually Quinn, if voted in)in maintaining parks located within the outer boroughs, especially when the modus operandi is taking public park land (eg. Flushing Meadows Park) and using it for private development. I say that Queens' only recourse is a complete and total secession from NYC.