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Can't even go to the park anymore!

Posted by on Jun. 27, 2010 at 2:54 PM
  • 5 Replies


Falling Tree Branch Kills Infant, Injures Mom in Park

Updated: 1 hour 16 minutes ago
Michelle Ruiz

Michelle Ruiz Contributor

AOL News
(June 27) -- A New Jersey father was snapping a family photo on a sunny Saturday in New York's Central Park when a falling tree branch injured his wife and killed his infant daughter, officials said.

Police confirmed the 33-year-old mother was holding her 6-month-old daughter outside the sea lion promenade at the Central Park Zoo when a large branch fell from 30 feet above them, knocking the woman over and causing her baby to fall to the ground, the New York Times reported.

The girl and her mother were rushed to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital, where the baby was pronounced dead and her mother was reported in critical condition.

The baby was identified as Gianna Ricciutti of Union City, N.J. Her parents were not initially identified by police but The New York Post named the mother as Karla Ricciutti and her husband, Mike Ricciutti, 41.

"The entire family is in a state of shock and they can't stop crying," relative Suzanne Fastow told The Post.

A zoo guard told the Times that the baby's father was "going crazy" and "screaming" in the aftermath of the accident. The guard said he heard a sound like a thunderclap and then saw the branch plunge.

A witness, Michelle Herson, 30, told the Post the baby girl "fell out of the mother's arms."

"The mother was covered in blood," she said. "The baby wasn't moving or crying. It happened in an instant."

A nurse visiting the park from Germany attempted CPR on Gianna, according to the Post, which said the mother underwent surgery Saturday night.

A police investigation into the accident is ongoing. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the zoo, expressed its condolences to Gianna's family in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family," spokesman Max Pulsinelli said.

Gianna's death is the second fatality related to falling tree branches this year alone at the park. In February, 46-year-old Elmaz Qyra was declared dead in the park's famous Literary Walk after a snow-covered branch plunged 40 feet and struck him on the head.

Last July, Google engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn was left in a coma after he was hit by a rotting 100-pound branch falling from 20 feet. His wife later filed a $120 million lawsuit against the city and the Central Park Conservancy, which maintains the park's trees.

After the accident that claimed Gianna's life, the Conservancy told the Post its "thoughts are with the family and we regret that we cannot comment as the investigation proceeds."
This story has prompted me to start saving up to cut down the trees around my house.  Just last year a branch (about 8" in diameter) came crashing down with NO wind! 

by on Jun. 27, 2010 at 2:54 PM
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by on Jun. 27, 2010 at 2:57 PM

I don't understand why someone can't go to the park?  There are trees everywhere and accidents happen?  Should we all live in bubbles?

by on Jun. 27, 2010 at 2:58 PM

  So very sad. My sincere condolences to the family.

by on Jun. 27, 2010 at 3:00 PM

It's was an accident. Tragic YES but things like this happen very sad... It would not stop me from going to the park.

by on Jun. 27, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Omg that is so sad, I actually cried. That poor man seeing his wife and baby girl go down like that, that had to be horrifying

by on Jun. 27, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Very sad to hear.

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