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New York (CNN) -- A 6-month-old girl was killed and her mother seriously injured Saturday when the pair were struck by a falling tree branch in New York City's Central Park Zoo.
The girl's father was taking their picture near the sea lion exhibit when a branch above them suddenly snapped.
The mother and baby were taken to the nearby Weill Cornell Medical Center, where the girl was pronounced dead upon arrival. As of Saturday evening, her 33-year-old mother is listed in critical, but stable condition and expected to survive.
Witnesses told CNN affiliate WABC that the baby did not cry out when she fell to the ground, leading them to believe she was killed instantly.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the Central Park Zoo, issued a statement after the incident expressing its "sincerest condolences" to the family, who was visiting the zoo from New Jersey.
A falling branch in the park also killed a man in February when heavy snow accumulations caused it to snap.
Taken from The NY TimesEdit
A baby girl was killed and her mother critically injured when a tree branch fell and struck them just outside the Central Park Zoo on Saturday, the police said.
The accident occurred about 1:45 p.m. on the promenade in front of the sea lion exhibit.
The mother, 33, was holding the 6-month-old girl and posing for a photograph taken by her husband when a large branch about 30 feet above them snapped, the police said. The branch struck the woman, and she fell to the ground, her baby in her arms.
The police identified the girl as Gianna Riccuitti of Union City, N.J. They did not release the names of her parents.
Gianna and her mother were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital. Medics responded at 1:50 p.m., and the woman and baby arrived at the hospital at 2:03 p.m., a Fire Department spokesman said. The baby was pronounced dead, and her mother was reported in critical condition.
A security guard at the zoo said he heard a loud crack, like a thunderclap, and saw the branch plummet. After the mother fell, members of her family shrieked, the guard said, and her husband began screaming and jumping around. “He was going crazy,” the guard said.
The area was sealed off with police tape, but the zoo remained open. By midafternoon, it was business as usual at the park, with children watching park workers feed fish to the sea lions, steps from the fallen branch.
Because it was within the zoo limits, the tree is maintained by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, the parks department said.
In a statement, the society said it wished to send its “sincerest condolences to the individuals involved in today’s accident.” A spokesman said he could not comment further due to the police investigation, which was continuing.
It was the third time in less than a year that someone had been harmed or killed by a falling tree branch in Central Park.
On Feb. 25, a 46-year-old man was killed when a large branch, weighed down by snow, snapped off and struck him.
The man, Elmaz Qyra of Brooklyn, was killed as he walked along a picturesque stretch called Literary Walk, so named because of its statues of Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. He was declared dead at the scene.
On July 30, a computer engineer who worked for Google was seriously injured when a rotting branch fell 20 feet from a large pin oak.
The engineer, Sasha J. Blair-Goldensohn, 33, was struck near the entrance of the park at Central Park West and West 63rd Street.
Elsewhere in Manhattan on Saturday, a 2-year-old boy fell out of an 18th-floor window and landed on a 15th-floor terrace at 333 East 46th Street. The child was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center and was in stable condition on Saturday night. The police said the fall appared to have been an accident.
Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.
Taken From NY Daily NewsEdit
A falling tree branch struck and killed a baby girl in the Central Park Zoo Saturday as she and her mother posed for a photo that the infant's father was taking, cops said.
Karla DelGallo, 33, was holding her 6-month-old daughter Gianna so Mike Ricciutti, 41, could snap a photo when the branch broke around 1:40 p.m., police and sources said.
German tourist Philipp Rams said he heard a cracking noise and turned to see the mother and daughter from Union City, N.J., on the stone driveway at the zoo.
"The father picked his baby up," Rams said. "He was carrying her. There was blood coming out of her ears."
Rams said a nurse from Quebec began giving Gianna CPR.
"The baby wasn't alive," said Rams, who appeared to be dazed by the sudden tragic turn of events.
Trung Tran, 37, and his 1-year-old son Dominic had just left the zoo when the branch crashed down in front of the California sea lions exhibit.
"I heard someone say, 'Watch out!' " Tran said. "I heard the branch cracking."
Tran, who was visiting the zoo from Edison, N.J., said he saw DelGallo trying to flee.
"She was trying to get away from the branch," he said. "She tripped and fell and the baby flew out of her arms."
He said he was praying that the two were safe.
"The baby wasn't crying, which wasn't a good sign," he said before pushing his baby carriage down Fifth Ave. near the E. 64th St. zoo entrance.
The large branch that fell on the mother and daughter came from what appeared to be a live tree and was covered by bright green foliage.
It was about 8 inches in diameter and fell from about 40 feet up.
"We stopped to get pictures, too!" Manhattan resident Michelle Herson, 30, exclaimed. "It could have been us."
"It could have been anyone," said a man who was with her but didn't provide his name, adding that he had "heard a big thump."
Police said Gianna was pronounced dead on arrival at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, where her mother was in stable condition.
At the hospital, Ricciutti started crying and put his hands over his face after doctors told him his daughter was dead.
A relative comforted him and said, "They did everything they could."
Cops loaded a stroller into a police van as they carted apparent family members from the scene.
With Henrick Karoliszyn, Kevin Deutsch, John Lauinger and Kerry Wills
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- I for one would like to pass my sympathies and condolences onto the family --Deb1701 13:42, June 27, 2010 (UTC)
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