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Police identify Sarah Noah as woman killed by falling tree limb in D.C. park


Police identify Sarah Noah as woman killed by falling tree limb in D.C. park

D.C. police have identified a woman who was killed Wednesday morning after being struck by a large tree limb that fell in Garfield Park in Southeast Washington.

Officers were called to Garfield Park at 7:24 a.m. Wednesday after getting a call that a large tree had fallen on top of someone. Police said Thursday that 35-year-old Sarah Noah, of Southeast, was found pinned underneath a large branch and was not conscious or breathing when police arrived.

The branch was too heavy for officers to remove, according to the report, requiring emergency personnel to remove it with chain saws, according to a police report.

Witnesses to the branch falling had reported hearing multiple loud pops and cracks that caused people in the park to “run in all directions,” according to the report.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) said Wednesday the incident was a “horrific tragedy,” and that Noah was believed to have been walking her dog. Police spokesperson Lee Lepe said Thursday morning the report “does not list any other injuries or damages caused by the limb’s collapse.” The park is frequently used by area children and neighbors.

Crews on Wednesday dismantled what remained of the massive swamp white oak tree, which officials from the D.C. Department of Transportation estimated to be more than 100 years old. The agency, which has an Urban Forestry Division, said the tree was inspected less than two years ago and was found to be in good health.

Officials have not yet determined what caused the limb to fall. In October, ahead of the North American Tree Climbing Championship, a volunteer crew examined and performed maintenance on the trees in Garfield Park to make sure they were safe for climbing, according to Jeff Inman, an arborist in Richmond who won the climbing competition. Inman said it can be difficult to diagnose what caused a tree to fall or snap.

Acting DDOT Director Sharon Kershbaum said in a statement Wednesday that the agency plans to reinspect all of the park’s mature trees by the end of the week.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones impacted by this tragic loss,” Kershbaum said.

Meagan Flynn contributed to this report.

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