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Finnegan's Wake Bartender Narrowly Escapes His Own Funeral and Falling Tree

A bartender on Manhattan's Upper East Side narrowly escaped death when a large tree came crashing down on him during his evening shift earlier this week. According to the story in the Daily News, the bartender, a mainstay at beloved Finnegan's Wake on E. 73rd St., had just stepped out of the cellar on First Avenue when the tree fell from across the street. It came crashing down on top of him. The frightened bartender certainly had the luck of the Irish at his side that night. The largest portion of the tree trunk, which stretched all the way across East 73rd Street, missed him. If he had been struck the injuries would have certainly been catastrophic. Still, he did not get away unscathed, sustaining shoulder and facial injuries. The accident chilled many of the loyal patrons at this popular local saloon.

How could something like this happened, particularly in a busy residential area? The city will likely bring their arborists - - tree experts - - to the scene and examine what remains of the tree. From this they hope to ascertain the age of the tree, the maintenance history with respect to the tree and what the origin of the fall was. Were there any recent evaluations of this tree by City agencies?

Who is responsible for maintenance of our city trees? New York City is generally responsible for the trees lining our streets. They are required to maintain the trees and respond to any problems that they become aware of. However, the City's maintenance program is antiquated and their ability to be proactive is limited based on resources. Practically speaking, the city will only respond to a problem tree if there is a call about the tree, generally made by a citizen. Sometimes there are trees that are just ready to fall and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. Other times, a reasonable inspection reveals that a tree is dangerous.

The bartender at 'Finnegan's Wake' is fortunate that he was not more seriously hurt. The lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy - - a firm with more than $800 million in recovered verdicts and settlements - - have represented victims who have been seriously injured in tree accidents. In one example, a case that resulted in a $8,800,000 settlement, the City failed to take appropriate action in making a tree safe and it ended up leaving a woman who was injured in a subsequent accident with a serious brain injury. We hope that this near - tragedy will again serve as a reminder that the City needs to be pro-active in policing our trees.

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