City Removes Tree at Overton Park After Collapse

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis)  Three children have been released from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital after being injured at Overton Park on Labor Day when a large tree branch crashed onto their picnic table. 

Some of the trees in that area of the park are more than 100 years old.

The limb was so heavy, it also crushed park of the concrete picnic table.

WREG On Your Side Investigators wanted to find out how it could have happened.

City crews spent Tuesday morning clearing limbs and cutting down the huge, shady oak.

Their task over the next few days is to remove the entire tree.

It's now considered unstablel.

Jeff Edelstein is a manager with the landscaping company that maintains the grounds at Overton Park, "In my opinion, it appeared like there was nothing wrong with this tree."

Echo Systems Landscaping handles the basics like cutting grass and removing small debris, while the city is in charge of the heavy lifting like tree maintenance and removal.

By all accounts, the tree from which the branch fell was healthy. 

City leaders are blaming the horrific accident on the weather.

"Perhaps it was a result of the combined effects of the drought and its prolonged stressing of the trees generally, and the repeated wind and rain events of the week.  The branches just worked their way, way loose," explains City of Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

We also asked Little and officials with the Overton Park Conservancy why at least two trees, including the one with the broken limbs, were marked with a black "X".

"The Xs are simply graffiti. We do not mark trees like that for removal and to my knowledge, neither  does the city," says conservancy Executive Director Tina Sullivan.

Meanwhile both city leaders and those with the Overton Park Conservancy say their thoughts are with the children and families injured in the accident.

"This tragic, unpredictable event could happen anywhere, we hope that it doesn't happen again in the park.," adds Sullivan. 

Both Sullivan and Little say while that tree showed no warning signs of problems, given our current weather pattern, crews will be out and about looking for potential hazards.