BUCKTOWN — Saturday night's high winds and rain caused a partially uprooted tree at Oakley and McLean avenues in Bucktown to topple on two women who both suffered concussions as well as cuts and bruises.
"We were happy it was not one of the kids. It could have been much worse had we of been in a different spot," said Emily Vyncke, a Bucktown resident and mom of two who said she and her mom were injured by the tree around 6 p.m.
Vyncke and her mom, Claudia Jacobs, who was visiting from Boston for the weekend, were walking at the back of a group of 12 that included four children.
"We were going home from Irazu, where we had our son's fourth birthday and did a group birthday dinner. We were walking down Oakley Avenue and had just walked through the crosswalk [at McLean]. We looked up. I thought I saw the tree falling on us. It came right down on our heads," Vyncke recalled.
She added, "Luckily, we were last, and the kids were up ahead with my husband and brother-in-law. We both got knocked out."
Vyncke and her mom both suffered concussions and spent 24 hours in Stroger Hospital.
They were released Sunday night from Stroger Hospital.
"We were both a bit out of it. We have staples in the back of our heads. The tree also struck my mom's leg pretty hard, and she has a laceration in the back of her head. We are sore, and will be just fine. We are both OK and walking. We are being monitored this week," Vyncke said.
Officer Laura Amezaga, a Chicago Police Department spokeswoman, said Shakespeare District police responded to a call to assist an emergency ambulance crew in the 2300 block of West McLean Avenue.
Amezaga said the responding officers saw two women under a large fallen tree in the crosswalk.
The victims, ages 34 and 69, told police they had been walking north on Oakley and were crossing at McLean Avenue when a large tree fell on them, Amezaga said.
According to two neighbors, who said they called 311 as recently as a month ago to notify the city that the tree needed to be removed, the incident could have been prevented.
Mike Strandberg, owner of Gallery Cabaret at 2020 N. Oakley Ave. told DNAinfo he called 311 on Sept. 16.
"I said they need to classify it as urgent. The tree was erect. Then I noticed [when I called in], that it was leaning on the wire. It was never on the wire and was putting tension on the wire. I said, 'This thing is getting ready to come down; we have kids here," Strandberg said.
Cliff McIntosh, a resident who lives near the tree, told DNAinfo he, too, had called the issue into 311 on Sept. 18, two days after Strandberg.
Early Monday, a spokeswoman from the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, when asked whether the tree was scheduled to be removed and what had happened after the alleged complaints were logged, said she was looking into the situation.
Strandberg said the tree's condition was so alarming that for the last month he had been telling people to avoid walking past it.
"I'm just glad no one was killed, and a child wasn't hurt. That whole corner is flooded with kids," Strandberg said.
The now-removed tree was on the opposite side of the street of Pulaski International School of Chicago, a neighborhood school that Vyncke's son attends.
"Being so close to a school and in a heavily walked area, I'm surprised [removing the tree] didn't take priority. The base of the tree looked like it was not connected to the ground for a long time," Vyncke said.
Photos of uprooted tree in Bucktown that injured two women on Saturday. Courtesy of victim's family pic.twitter.com/nzFK5MQZqd— Alisa Hauser (@DNA_WPB) October 16, 2017