Resident: City Did Nothing After Complaints About Dangerous Tilting Tree

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a close call for a woman pulling out of her driveway Tuesday after a massive tree came crashing down right in her path.

The tree came down on 54th Avenue near Douglaston Parkway in Queens, right outside Alex Casalino’s house, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.

“It sounded like a huge crash and I thought it was weird for thunder, so I didn’t really know what it was. My dog freaked out and then I looked out and saw it,” said Casalino.

But even more terrifying, Casalino’s mother had just gotten into the car to head out to work.

“She was in the car approximately 8 o’clock this morning, right in the driveway getting ready to back out,” said husband Tom Baumgardner. “She hears a loud crash, turned around only to see this tree come down right exactly where she would have backed out into.”

“And then she told me, she was like ‘I was in the car, I was just about to pull out.’ And I was like, ‘Thank God you didn’t,'” said Casalino.

Baumgardner told Brennan he’s wanted to get rid of the tree for months.

It all started because the tree was pulling out of the ground and lifting up the sidewalk. So the Baumgardners complained to the city.

What was the city’s response? Crews fixed the sidewalk, but did nothing about the tree, Brennan reported.

“I’ve seen the people come and audit the tree. They really just looked at it and left,” said Casalino. “What made you think this wasn’t gonna fall? It was on an angle, tilting over the street. Obviously it’s not gonna defy gravity and not fall.”

Baumgardner said three separate times the city came and told him essentially he should not believe his eyes, Brennan reported.

“What they basically said was there was no danger of the tree falling,” he said. “Even though, pretty much common sense, you could see the tree was going to fall over,” he said.

During the day, some 60 people were left without power. Con Edison was working on the wires.

Some resident said the city just didn’t listen.

“(Brennan: What do you make of the response by the city?) Obviously we are not happy about it. We think that the city should be more responsive,” said Douglaston resident Asad Raza.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, crews were still working to remove the tree from 54th Avenue. Con Edison said most of its customers affected should have power restored by early evening.

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