New York City tourist suffers fractured skull, spine after being hit by falling tree branch

A New York City tourist was rushed to the hospital in critical condition Monday after a tree branch crashed down on her in Washington Square Park, fracturing her skull and spine.

Penny Chang, 55, of Charlottesville, Va., was sitting on a bench with her 19-year-old son on the west side of the 9.75-acre park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood when police say a 35-foot branch snapped from a London plane tree and hit her.

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The incident occurred around 7:40 p.m., New York Daily News reported. Her son was not harmed.

A massive tree branch fell from a tree in Washington Square Park Monday evening, leaving one woman from Virginia in critical condition.

A massive tree branch fell from a tree in Washington Square Park Monday evening, leaving one woman from Virginia in critical condition. (New York Post)

The woman was in critical but stable condition at the Bellevue Hospital intensive care unit Tuesday evening, the New York Post reported. In addition to her skull and spinal injuries, she also suffered a laceration to the back of her head.

The city Parks Department inspected the tree Tuesday morning and reported signs of a fungus called massaria, which the agency believes caused the limb to fall. The tree was last inspected in July 2017 and deemed to be in fair condition. The tree was last pruned the following month in August 2017, the department said.

A 55-year-old Virginia woman suffered a fractured spine and skull and a cut to the back of her head after a large tree branch fell on her in Washington Square Park.

A 55-year-old Virginia woman suffered a fractured spine and skull and a cut to the back of her head after a large tree branch fell on her in Washington Square Park. (Facebook/ New York Daily News)

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“We will conduct further inspections of the tree, and surrounding trees, and will address accordingly,” agency spokeswoman Crystal Howard said without providing any further details about how often trees are normally inspected for safety reasons at the public park.