Dangerous playground tree to go

Ben Dewhurst (Rebecca Hosking)

By Luke Voogt

A six-year-old girl has had a near miss with a falling branch at a Belmont playground, four weeks after another large branch fell from the same tree.

Ben Dewhurst’s children were playing on Sunday when the branch fell with a loud crack and landed near his niece on the slide.

“If she had been at the bottom of the slide it would have engulfed her,” the Bell Post Hill father said.

“My daughter said it sounded like a thunder clap.”

Luckily, only the leafy end of the branch touched her, Mr Dewhurst said.

“Given there were three children on the playground and a fourth in the vicinity – it was incredibly fortunate that no one was injured or killed.”

The branch was about the width of a basketball but the children were unperturbed by the near miss, Mr Dewhurst said.

“The kids didn’t seem to grasp the gravity of it.”

The incident comes after the Independent reported a large branch falling from the tree onto the playground near Barwon Valley Activity Centre on January 9.

“When we discovered that an article had been written about this tree about a month ago, we were dumbstruck it had been assessed as not dangerous,” Mr Dewhurst said.

Council arborists conducted a ground-based visual assessment of the tree on January 9 but identified no defects requiring removal, city services director Guy Wilson-Browne said at the time.

Highton resident Geoff James that week pointed out several other overhanging branches he believed were dangerous following the fall.

“The smallest of them would weigh 50kg to 100kg,” Mr Dewhurst said this week.

“Something like that hitting someone from 10 metres would be enough kill or injure them.

“If it fell during daylight hours I’d say there’s a better-than-average chance it’s going to fall on someone.”

On Wednesday, Mr Wilson-Browne said council arborists would remove the tree by the end of this week.

“Given the second branch failed in strong winds, and its proximity to the children’s playground, we have decided to remove the tree,” he said.

“Risk management is a key component of managing trees and is taken extremely seriously by our qualified arborists.”

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.