Large maple tree suffering from rot sheds a limb at Memorial Park

by:  JOSH KULLA - This stump is all that remains of a large maple tree in Memorial Park that dropped a sizable limb nearly on top of passersby. A number of Memorial Park moviegoers were given quite a fright recently, when a massive tree limb came crashing to the ground just feet from members of the audience.

The incident took place just after the city of Wilsonville’s Aug. 16 Movie in the Park attraction, “Pirates: Band of Misfits,” finished around 10 p.m. It was then that a huge limb from a maple tree fell on a heavily used footpath near the river shelter at the south end of the park.

“When the movie ended, my family took a slightly longer route to our car because we were looking for a trash can,” said moviegoer and witness Marci Lister. “I’m glad that we did.”

The path closest to Lister’s vehicle passes directly by public restrooms located at the south end of the parking lot. That turned out to be precisely where the giant branch fell.

“Just after we navigated past the public restrooms, we heard a loud sound that my oldest said sounded like someone launching fireworks,” Lister said. “We turned around just in time to see a huge part of a tree break away and come crashing down. It was so big it looked like a whole tree had fallen.”

Other bystanders rushed swiftly to the scene and frantically looked to see if anyone had been injured or otherwise affected by the falling limb. Fortunately, there was no damage to person or property, just a few nerves.

Lister said she had no idea who — if anyone — was in charge, but countless individuals worked to secure the scene and render aid, if needed.

“Instantly people started rushing to help, and we could hear people shouting, ‘Is anyone under there? Is anyone hurt?’” she said. “Since we were so close, I put my kids in our car and I by: JOSH KULLA - This stump is all that remains of a large maple tree in Memorial Park that dropped a sizable limb nearly on top of passersby. turned my vehicle to shine our headlights on the scene. I was amazed by the heroic attitudes that so many people had — jumping into action to see if anyone needed rescuing.”

Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Director Stan Sherer said the tree in question, a large maple, was removed entirely the following day to prevent any further mishaps.

Outwardly, the tree appeared healthy, Sherer said. But the limb that fell proved to be rotten on the inside. He added that he is not sure exactly what, if any, type of disease the tree may have been suffering from.

“Once the branch fell off you could see that it was rotten on the inside,” Sherer said. “It’s just fortunate that nobody was involved. It’s not an unusual occurrence; it happens every day. It just doesn’t happen that close to a scheduled event.”

City crews took off additional branches the following day and found further rot, Sherer said. They then cut down the entire tree to prevent additional problems.

“This tree didn’t really show any indication it wasn’t healthy,” Sherer said. “But once that branch came off it revealed it really was time to come off. Obviously we were very relieved no person was involved or no vehicle was involved. It just missed the restroom building, so that was good too.”

“It was just extremely good luck that it happened to fall when no one was in the way, especially at a crowded event,” Lister added. “My youngest said, ‘I don’t think I can sleep tonight,’ wondering if everyone was OK. It certainly was scary.”

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