An investigation is under way to determine which organization is responsible for maintenance on a tree that killed a 6-month-old baby in Central Park over the weekend. Karla DelGallo was holding her child, Gianna Ricciutti, while her husband snapped a picture of the two when a tree branch came crashing down on them, killing Gianna and hospitalizing her mother (she's in stable condition). The tree's roots are planted in the Central Park Zoo, which maintained by the Wildlife Conservation Society, but the branches hung over into the park, which is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy.
Parks Department spokeswoman Vickie Karp told the Daily News, "The limb was in full leaf and appeared healthy," but local watchdog groups have become increasingly critical of the park's tree maintenance, as this is the third time this year people have been injured or killed by a falling branch. NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft said, "This is crazy. We really have to be looking at this—it's happening way too much. We cannot have the public getting killed in the park."
Former city parks commissioner Henry J. Stern told the Times that the $600,000 a year budget to maintain the park's 26,000 trees is more than enough, but they can't check every single tree. He said, “It should be minimized. It is impossible to prevent this completely." But some damage might have been prevented with the right care. Lawyer Alan M. Shapey, representing the family of a man killed by a falling branch in February, said the responsible tree had been deemed unsafe by the Central Park Conservancy in December 2009. He asked, "Why would that tree be there two and a half months after it should have been removed?...I can’t be walking through Central Park looking up at the trees, wondering which one is going to hit me,” he added. “Do I have to wear a hardhat?"