Southampton Park has been deemed safe to visit despite a falling branch accident which crushed a pensioner to death. The accident occurred when a 10-metre oak tree branch fell on 85-year old Clive Denton while he was walking on Southampton Common. The branch fell from almost nine metres above the man and left him with critical head and chest injuries.
Mr Denton was fit and healthy and took regular walks around the common. On the day of the incident, the man was trapped under the branch for around 30 minutes before a dog walker found him and called the emergency services. Mr Denton was not responsive at the scene and was treated by medics. However, when rushed to hospital, Mr Denton was pronounced dead on arrival.
At the inquest, it was found that the branch had been decaying internally for several years and could have fallen any time. There were no obvious signs of infection, but the fungus causing the decay is common to oak trees according to Mike Harris, senior tree officer at Southampton City Council.
The Southampton City Council and the Health and Safety Executive both reviewed the area and deemed it safe after the incident. Mr Harris states that the man would unlikely have had time to get out of the way and a small drop in the wind could have caused the branch to fall. Mr Denton’s death was recorded as accidental.
Accidents in public parks
A falling branch accident like this one may have been prevented if the branch had been spotted and removed by local authorities. If a park is regularly maintained, it should be possible to reduce the risk of accident by removing or controlling hazards in the area. This means cleaning out play areas, maintaining swings and other play equipment and ensuring that people do not trip or fall into ponds.
Trees may be harder to maintain but there may be hanging branches which could be removed to prevent head injuries.
Source: Daily Echo