Woman hurt by fallen branch in Waikiki despite recent tree inspection

Local News

A woman was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon after a large tree branch apparently fell on her in Waikiki.

It happened just after noon on Kalakaua Avenue near Kealohilani Avenue.

Witnesses said it happened so fast, the injured woman never had a chance to react.

“It was kind of a crack and then this big bang and everything. It was just really fast. Everything happened really fast,” said Randy Funk.

Funk said at first, people didn’t even realize that anyone was trapped underneath.

“Everyone piled through and tried to see what was going on and then someone said oh, there’s an arm there and they figured out there’s a woman underneath the tree and that’s when the ambulances and the fire trucks came,” Funk said.

Lifeguards from the beach rushed over and started treating the 47-year-old woman until Emergency Medical Services came and took her to the hospital in serious condition.

She had a bruise on her head and cuts to her arm and leg.

The tree is known as an autograph tree and there are plenty of them lined up along Kalakaua Avenue.

A spokesman for the city says the tree had been trimmed in March and was even inspected in June.

An arborist said it’s rare for that type of tree to just break off on its own.

“Usually these are not high on our list of trees that are known to failure, so I am surprised. They are generally structurally stable. They do have aggressive root systems,” said Gregory Severino, a board member of the Aloha Arbor Association.

Severino says because the trees are generally stable, they only have to be trimmed once a year. So what could have caused this tree to fall?

“Could have been insect infestation, could have been abuse by a previous guy with a chainsaw, could be neglect like you were suggesting, top heavy. There’s a number of things that could be going on here,” he said.

A worker nearby told KHON2 another branch had fallen from the same tree a few months ago but no one was hurt.

A spokesman for the city says work crews had removed a cracked branch from the tree in June and that an inspection of the tree showed no signs that further pruning was needed.

Arborists will inspect the fallen branch to determine why it broke.

The city says the remainder of the tree will be removed from the site.

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