On July 28th, a 70-foot tree came crashing down suddenly outside of Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, California. Eight children between the ages of 6 and 8 were injured, and at least two were in critical condition and transported to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
The 75-year old pine tree suddenly came down out of nowhere around 4:50 p.m. near the entrance of the museum, just as children were being let out of summer camp.
Kidspace is located near the infamous Rose Bowl stadium in Brookside Park in Pasadena, California.
The 62 acre park, located in the Arroyo Seco is surrounded by large, mature trees, and features numerous recreational facilities, such as the historic Jackie Robinson Baseball Stadium, two playgrounds, a tot lot, and Kidspace Children’s Museum – all areas with a large amount of foot traffic from park visitors of all ages.
Although mature trees are a desirable feature at parks everywhere, they can pose a serious threat to park visitors if they are not inspected regularly. Old, damaged, or weak trees can fall and endanger lives. Large, weak branches also present falling hazards. Dead or decayed trees in areas frequented by park visitors should be regularly inspected and removed if they present a danger.
Last summer near Yosemite National Park, a 21-year-old camp counselor was tragically killed and several others injured at a youth camp after a large tree fell outside of the dining hall at Camp Tawonga.
Holding Parks Accountable
Trees in parks must be regularly inspected for hazards. When injuries or death occur because of a tree, the law usually holds the tree owner responsible. In a public place such as a park, this responsibility can fall on a city, county, or the state of California.
Under the law, it is the tree owner’s responsibility to exercise good judgment and foresight by inspecting trees regularly and recognizing dangerous situations that may cause a tree to break or fall, especially in public areas.
At Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, we hope that this tragedy at Brookside Park raises public awareness about the danger that trees pose and encourages parks across the country to improve their inspection practices.