Falling tree delivers crushing blow
As Morgan Connick watched a falling 10-tonne tree crush his car, he was just thankful he wasn’t in it.
Mr Connick was parked outside a block of pensioner flats in Onehunga, where he was visiting his mother, when a large erythrina or flame tree on the neighbouring property fell on the carpark without warning.
He was walking back to his Subaru Legacy about 10.30am when he saw the tree begin to fall.
“It was like slow motion. When it landed on the car it sounded like a tin can being crushed in your hand. There was no wind or anything.”
One of the caretakers visiting the flats was parked several spaces away from Mr Connick and walked out ahead of him.
“She got in her car as it fell and she started screaming. I ran to get a phone to call for help but she was okay.”
His sister, Helene Colins, parked her car two spaces away and it was scratched by the fallen branches, which trapped it in place.
“If it had fallen a different way, it would have landed on the pensioner flats. It was fortunate it hit the car,” says Mr Connick.
The tree completely crushed the car, writing it off.
It could have killed him if was sitting in it.
“I’m glad it took me a while to put my shoes on.”
Ms Colins says people are always coming and going in the carpark and it was lucky no one was walking underneath the tree when it fell.
The pair called in consultant arborist Chris Benton to determine why the tree fell.
“It had come to the end of its life span.
“That tree was 60 years old and structurally flawed,” Mr Benton says.
He says one of the tree’s two stems fell a year ago and the remaining part was not maintained.
The fungal infection that ate the dead roots of the fallen part also attacked the roots of the standing tree, damaging its structure.
When the first stem fell, the other stem should have been properly maintained to make sure it was safe, he says.
The part that crushed Mr Connick’s car was 12 metres high and weighed around 10 tonnes.
“It’s not about trees fall- ing over, it’s about a lack of sensible maintenance. Some alarm bells should have rung. It could have killed someone easily.
“A big tree that is healthy and sound is not going to fall over.”
The property where the tree was growing is owned by Ontrack, who leases it out.
A spokeswoman says someone was sent down to inspect the site on the day of the incident.
“As yet we have not been approached by the owner of the vehicle, but we will work through the matter with them when we do.”
Ontrack contacted Housing New Zealand, which leases the pensioner flats.
Crushing blow: A 10-tonne tree fell on Morgan Connick’s car, writing it off.