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A tree fell on a female pedestrian near the corner of 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue NW this afternoon. But it was less a freak accident than preventable one—the tree fell two hours after police were notified.
At around 10:30 a.m., a Chipotle delivery truck collided with the tree, leaving it hanging at a 45-degree angle, witnesses say. Police responded after the collision and completed a report, but none were present when the tree crashed to the sidewalk about two hours later.
“People in Cosi were screaming,” says Brett Freeman, manager of a local store, describing onlookers’ attempts to prevent the initial crash. The delivery truck backed up and hit the tree again. “The driver didn’t care.…We called city services, but they never came,” Freeman says.
An employee of a nearby sandwich shop who saw the incident, Hannah Tesman, confirms that the police had abandoned the scene. “The police came out, but no one fixed it.…[N]o one was there when the tree came down.”
Karen Reyes, manager of the Chipotle, did not witness the collision or see the tree fall, but confirms that the driver came in to use the telephone. Reyes would not provide the number of the delivery company.
Police spokesperson Ofc. Israel James says that a branch of the tree struck the woman—according to witnesses, in her mid-20s—on the arm. An ambulance was called, and she was treated on the scene, he says. James could not comment on why police left the scene before the tree was secured. “I wasn’t told what caused the branch to strike the person,” he says.
According to Eric Lindon Erik Linden of the D.C. Department of Transportation, the agency’s Urban Foresty Administration didn’t hear about the tree until after it fell, at 12:55 p.m. “We immediately dispatched our emergency crews to the scene,” he says.