Police identify Sarah Noah as woman killed by falling tree branch in Washington DC park

Washington, D.C., police have identified a woman who died Wednesday morning after she was struck by a large tree branch that fell in Garfield Park in southeast Washington.

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

According to the report, the branch was too heavy for officers to remove. Emergency services had to remove the branch with chainsaws, the police report said.

Witnesses to the falling branch reported hearing several loud bangs and bangs, which sent people in the park “running in all directions,” the report said.

D.C. Councilman Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) said Wednesday that the incident was a “terrible tragedy” and that Noah was likely walking her dog. Police spokesman Lee Lepe said Thursday morning that the report “does not indicate any other injuries or damage caused by the collapsed limb.” The park is often used by children and area neighbors.

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

Officials have not yet determined what caused the branch to fall. In October, before the North American Tree Climbing Championship, a volunteer crew inspected and performed maintenance on trees in Garfield Park to make sure they were safe to climb, said Jeff Inman, a Richmond arborist who won the climbing competition. Inman said it can be difficult to determine what caused a tree to fall or break.

Sharon Kershbaum, acting director of DDOT, said in a statement Wednesday that the agency plans to re-inspect all mature trees in the park by the end of the week.

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

Meagan Flynn contributed to this report.

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