NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A first-time block party in a quiet neighborhood in New Hyde Park, Long Island, turned to chaos this weekend when a tree limb slammed into a crowd.
As CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported, frantic rescue efforts were complicated by frayed nerves when the accident happened Saturday night.
“Just mayhem, screaming, and that whole tree just came down,” one witness said.
“Mothers screaming, ‘Where’s my kids?’” another said.
According to the New Hyde Park Patch, the 30-foot tree limb came down around 10:40 Saturday night. Witnesses told the publication that the branch landed on two people who were on the front lawn.
Partygoers turned rescuers scrambled to try to lift the tree limb off the trapped victims.
“There’s probably 60 of us; we couldn’t even lift it,” said Bobby Donahue of New Hyde Park. “We just swung it over.”
“We were trying to pull people and look for people with flashlights underneath, and try to hold it up,” said Darren Olivieri, a party guest.
“We saw that there was one guy that was down, and it looked like it was his leg,” said party guest Jim Justice. “Somebody else got hurt, and there was a woman pinned underneath.”
Four adults were injured, and none of their injuries were considered life-threatening. No children were hurt.
A 30-year-old man suffered a broken leg in the incident. A 43-year-old woman was severely bruised on her face, and others suffered bumps, bruises, cuts and scratches, police said.
But the problems were not over. After the accident, numerous witnesses said things turned ugly between residents, rescuers and police.
“There was some yelling and screaming,” Justice said.
He said dozens of police officers rushed to the scene as tempers flared.
“Next thing you know, there was two or three guys in handcuffs, and they were in the car,” Justice said.
One Good Samaritan trying to rescue someone ended up being taken into custody after an argument with police.
“He has two little girls that are worked about him,” said New Hyde Park resident David Cushman. “The wife was crying all night last night.”
The exact cause of the tree collapse was not known Sunday night. But since Superstorm Sandy, area residents said they have complained to local authorities to no avail about trees that appeared to be dangerously frail.
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