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United Kingdom

35-foot tree limb fell onto a tourist in Washington Square Park fracturing her skull and spine

A 35-foot-long tree limb injured a tourist from Virginia who was visiting New York City's Washington Square Park on Monday.

The limb fell from a London plane tree in Washington Square Park, fracturing the skull and spine of Penny Chang, 55, who was in the city with her 19-year-old son, Jacob. 

Chang was taken to Bellevue Hospital where she was classified as being in stable but critical condition on Tuesday, the CBS News reported.

Last year, a woman sued the city for $200million after a tree with rotting roots fell on her and her three children while she was walking through Central Park, DailyMail.com previously reported.

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A 35-foot-long tree limb (shown) fell and injured Penny Chang, 55, a tourist from Virginia who was sitting on a bench with her 19-year-old son Jacob in New York City's Washington Square Park on Monday

Officials said the limb may have fallen due to being infected with Massaria, a fungal disease

On Monday in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, Chang was struck while sitting on a bench on the west side of Washington Square Park at around 7.40pm Eastern.

Her son, who was sitting beside her was not injured, authorities said.

The New York City Parks Department released a statement on Tuesday including a possible explanation for the fallen limb. 

'This morning’s preliminary inspection indicates that the tree shows signs of having Massaria, a fungus, which may have caused the limb to fail,' the agency said.

'We will conduct further inspections of the tree, and surrounding trees, and will address accordingly.'

The bough fractured Chang's skull and spine and left a gash in the back of her head as it came crashing down on her at around 7.40pm Eastern on Monday, on the west side of Washington Square Park (main area shown)

Her son, who was sitting beside her on the bench (pictured), was not injured, authorities said

Massaria is a fungal disease that infects trees, especially those which are more than 40 years old according to Woodland Trust, a United Kingdom-based woodland conservation charity.

The disease does not typically affect the overall health of the tree, but does cause limbs to die off and fall. 

Smaller branches infected with Massaria can die within a year, after showing signs including dead flaking bark with exposed orange sap wood, though branches may decay and fall as quickly as within a few months after becoming infected.

It's tougher to spot Massaria in large branches because the bark tends to start dying off on the upper side.   

The tree that the limb fell from was last inspected by the city in November 2016 and June 2017, each time being listed as in fair condition, the City Parks department said.

It had most recently been pruned one month later, in August of 2017.

It's not known how old the tree is at this time.

The tree that the limb fell from was last inspected by the city in November 2016 and June 2017, each time being listed as in fair condition, the City Parks department said. It had most recently been pruned one month later, in August of 2017

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