Police identify Sarah Noah as woman killed by falling branch in DC park

Police identify Sarah Noah as woman killed by falling branch in DC park

Washington DC police have determined the identity of a woman who died Wednesday morning when she was struck by a large fallen tree branch in Garfield Park in southeast Washington.

At 7:24 a.m. Wednesday, officers were called to Garfield Park after receiving a call that a large tree had fallen on someone. Police said Thursday that 35-year-old Sarah Noah of Southeast was found trapped under a large tree branch and was not conscious or breathing when police arrived.

According to the report, the branch was too heavy for officers to remove. According to the police report, rescue workers had to remove it with chainsaws.

Witnesses to the falling branch reported hearing several loud bangs and crashes that caused people in the park to “run in all directions,” the report said.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) said Wednesday the incident was a “horrific tragedy” and that it was believed Noah was walking her dog. Police spokesman Lee Lepe said Thursday morning the report “does not list any other injuries or damage caused by the tree branch collapsing.” The park is frequently used by children and neighborhood neighbors.

On Wednesday, workers removed the remains of the giant swamp white oak, which the Washington DC Department of Transportation estimates to be more than 100 years old. The agency, which also has an urban forestry division, said the tree was examined less than two years ago and found to be in good condition.

Authorities have not yet determined what caused the branch to fall. In October, before the North American Tree Climbing Championship, a volunteer team inspected and maintained trees in Garfield Park to make sure they were safe for climbing, according to Jeff Inman, a Richmond arborist who won the climbing competition. Inman said diagnosing the cause of a tree falling or snapping can be difficult.

Acting DDOT Director Sharon Kershbaum said in a statement Wednesday that the agency plans to re-inspect all of the park’s mature trees by the end of the week.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones affected by this tragic loss,” Kershbaum said.

Meagan Flynn contributed to this report.