The wet snow that has been blanketing the city is so heavy it knocked a "healthy branch" from a "healthy tree," killing a pedestrian who was walking in Central Park yesterday afternoon, according to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "These trees are probably among the best cared for trees in the country—carefully monitored for disease and removed if there is any hint of disease," said Benepe of the American elms, which line both sides of the park's Literary Walk. "And that was apparently a healthy branch and a healthy tree."
The branch—described in the Times as weighing about 100 pounds—hit the victim on the pedestrian mall near East Drive and East 69th Street at round 3:25 pm. It struck a man identified in the Post as 46-year-old Dyker Heights resident Elmaz Qyra (WCBS reports he was 56 years old). Qyra was a steward at the New York Athletic Club on Central Park South who was reportedly wearing workout clothes and sneakers when the incident occurred.
"Nature can be very beautiful. It can also be dangerous and tonight this is unusually heavy snow. I can't recall a storm of this magnitude with trees coming over like this because of the snow. The winds were not that heavy yet," said Benepe. The heavy snow crushed a part of a wall at the aviary inside the Central Park Zoo, which workers hurried to fix before birds could escape. It also knocked a tree branch atop an MTA bus on Fifth Avenue near East 71st Street, leading to the temporary closure of the thoroughfare. The driver was the only person aboard the bus, and was reportedly uninjured. Last night, the city sent out a warning telling New Yorkers to stay away from trees.