110-year-old oak falls in Woodlawn Heights

110-year-old oak falls in Woodlawn Heights|110-year-old oak falls in Woodlawn Heights|110-year-old oak falls in Woodlawn Heights
The stump is all that remains of the once majestic 110-year-old tree.
Photo courtesy of Linda Corcoran

A huge tree in Woodlawn snapped for no apparent reason.

Neighbors were shaken after an 100-year-old oak tree came crashing down at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 11 on East 238th Street between Martha and Katonah avenues.

The massive oak caused a multitude of damage directly across the street from where it was located: injuring a woman who was in her garden, knocking down an awning, landing on houses and totaling a parked car, said neighbor Linda Corcoran.

A fire official who was on the scene told Corcoran’s son that the car absorbed the tree’s fall and that it could have been far worse if it had not been there, she said.

Corcoran, who has lived on the block her entire life, said that city recently tested the tree and determined it to be viable, also determining its age.

“It just keeled over,” she said, adding that the oak would be missed.

“Everyone is now complaining because that (tree) provided so much shade on the block and it is so blazing hot, now” said Corcoran, who said ironically many people used to complain about raking up its leaves.

Corcoran had the good fortune of being out of town when the unexpected collapse occurred, but many of her neighbors were not so lucky.

Her next-door neighbor Tom Letizia, who said he was watching television with his wife Susan when he heard rumbling, said that the sound of the tree as it fell was overwhelming.

It seemed as if the noise from the collapsing tree, parts of which landed near windows on his top floor apartment, was coming from inside his place.

Cars were damaged by the falling tree.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

“It almost sounded like thunder inside the apartment, just loud rumbling,” said Letizia. “It was probably the longest 30 to 45 seconds you could imagine.”

As the colossal tree came down, Letizia heard what he described as “gut wrenching screaming” and jumped off his bed, telling his wife to get out of the house.

He went to get his son, whose room was in the front of the house and who was in a state of shock, he said, and went downstairs.

The awning in front of his door had collapsed and they had to push the bent metal aside to exit, he said,

According to Letizia, by the around 6 p.m. that evening, the city’s quick response team left not-much-more than sawdust and debris in the street, and soon after Con Edison went to work repairing power lines that had been felled, restoring juice by about 1 p.m.

Letizia and Corcoran both said that the situation could have been far worse had it had been a school day at P.S. 19.

Corcoran said that children and parents often use 238th Street to reach the school because it is not too hilly, and Letizia added that the school sometimes lines up students not too far away during fire drills.

Rifat Lecaj, whose wife was injured by the falling tree, said that he believed the tree was diseased and that it had been leaning towards his house for some time.

His wife, who is in the hospital, is still in some pain, he said, adding the wind was still at the time of the accident.

According to published reports, Parks Department examined the tree twice in 2016.

The massive tree blocked vehicular movement on East 238th Street.
Photo by Edwin Soto

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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