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City Looks to Review Tree Maintenance After Oak Crushes Queens Woman

By  Aidan Gardiner and Trevor Kapp | August 6, 2013 3:22pm 

 Yingyi Li, 30, was six months pregnant and expecting a girl, her distraught husband said.
Falling Tree Kills Pregnant Woman
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NEW YORK CITY — The Parks Department is looking to hire an an independent consultant to review the city's tree management procedures after a 70-year-old oak snapped and crushed a mom-to-be in Kissena Park.

Parks officials issued a statement Monday night expressing sympathy for Yingyi Li-Divok, 30, who was crushed when an oak snapped about 8 feet from its base and fell onto her about 6:30 p.m., officials said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family," said Parks spokesman Arthur Pincus.

According to parks officials, the area of Kissena Park around where the tree fell had been inspected six times in 2013, most recently on June 20.

But they would not elaborate on the results of the inspections.

There were two open cases near Kissena Park for damaged trees first on June 17 and again July 29, according to 311, but the exact location of the trees or the result of the complaints was not immediately known.

In winter 2012, Parks staff underwent training to better detect tree defects, Pincus said.

But the city is now "in the process of contracting an independent tree consultant to review all" tree management procedures. The Parks Department said it regularly inspects trees close to roadways.

Sunday's fatality was only the latest in a series of similar incidents in which falling tree limbs injured passersby.

On July 30, a basketball player was pinned under a fallen branch. And a month before, an Indiana woman broke her arm and chipped her teeth when a branch fell on her in Central Park.

The city also paid $11 million this year to a Google engineer who was crippled when a large branch landed on his head in 2009.

The latest victim, who was six months pregnant with a girl who she hoped to name Christine, was rushed to New York Hospital Queens where she was pronounced dead.

Her widower, National Guardsman Aleksandar Dikov, said Tuesday that her funeral had yet to be planned.

And for years, some sort of fungus appeared to have been eating away at the trunk of the oak that killed Li-Dikov, according to Geoffrey Croft, of NYC Parks Advocates, parks activist organization.

"We all know what the problems are. This has been going on for decades," Croft said. "It takes someone to get murdered for the city to start looking at this. "

Inspectors will pore over the fallen tree to determine why it suddenly snapped, Pincus said.