On Wednesday, April 3, 2019, at approximately 2:05 p.m., a tree residing in the res quad fell onto the side of Wireman Residence Hall, to the surprise of many who were outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
Blake Baker, ’21, was one of the witnesses of the fallen tree and had been a safe distance away, lounging near Belk Residence Hall at the ENO pole when it happened, and noted that it had looked perfectly normal before it started to slowly fall over. The tree was very quiet until the roots snapped and it fell quickly afterward. At first, he was shocked, as it seemed perfectly healthy and upright beforehand. The atmosphere leading up to it was calm and peaceful, and there was no wind at the time.
Chemaria Washington, the graduate intern director in Albright, had been in Morrison when one of her RA’s informed her of the situation around 2:08. When she got to the scene at about 2:16, Campus Police had already been at the scene and was roping off the area around the tree to ensure the safety of the students. She recalled hearing a lot of students making jokes about how they had wished they had gotten caught under the tree in order to receive compensation such as a check or free tuition. Others appeares to simply be curious about what had happened.
Washington’s first concern had been about the wellbeing of the students. When that was ensured, she moved on to figuring out the cause, which was allegedly due to the age of the tree and how saturated the ground was.
Campus Police and Campus Services contacted the Director of Housing to ensure that students were made aware of what had happened and made arrangements for the quick removal of the tree.
Veronica Harvey, the assistant project manager in the Department of Campus Planning and Services, explained that the tree had not been marked for concern prior to the incident and that Queens consults with a professional arborist in regards to the health of the trees. Precautions would be taken to protect and maintain the other trees around campus. While they had not been expecting the tree to fall, they do make necessary precautions and plans for the possibility of these things happening.
Ray Thrower, the assistant vice president of Public Safety and Campus Police as well as the director of Emergency Management, said the the exact cause of the tree falling is unknown. It is believed to have been a mix of earlier weather (it had briefly snowed the day before, among numerous other rainy days) and the saturation of the ground.
A small white cv pipe was potruding form the upturned roots of the tree. It is believed to be an old irrigation pipe that was no longer being used.
Thrower explained what the procedure for this kind of event typically is. The first and main priority of Queens is to make sure that no students were hurt and that there isn’t any risk of further ground or root movement elsewhere that could endanger other students’ safety. After that, they call a professional tree cutting service for the removal of the tree, before contacting another professional service about removing the stump and fixing the ground underneath.
Queens did have people check every single room that the tree had hit to assess potential damages, particualry any broekn glass from windows. No windows were broken, although a bench was crushed and the tree left large scuff marks where it impacted into Wireman.
Thrower is very thankful that nobody was hurt. His biggest piece of advice regarding the entire situation is to stay away from a tree after it has fallen because there are still possibilites of the tree moving, collapsing or snapping even after it has seemingly settled.
Work on removal of thr tree began around 4 p.m the same day.
Campus Police hopes students contact them immediately if any other structures around campus appear unsafe.
Written by Sabrina Ingram, ’22.