Video: Fatal tree-climbing accident in Oakland may be linked to drought





OAKLAND (KRON) — A recent tree-climbing accident turned fatal for a teen boy in Oakland, and now, a city leader said the accident may be linked to drought conditions in California.

An Oakland city leader talked to KRON about the tragedy Monday. Huge cracks in the hulls of trees are fairly common at Lake Merritt. A limb of one such tree fatally injured 16-year-old Jack Lewis, who was killed in the tree-climbing accident.

“My initial reaction was to burst into tears,” city council president Lynette McElhaney said.

Lake Merritt is McElhaney’s district. She said the city is constantly monitoring tree conditions in light of California’s drought.

“Well in light of the drought and also preparing for our El Nino, our tree teams are out inspecting our trees,” McElhaney said. “We rely on the public to also alert us to them. But we are certainly are very cautious about our trees and tree conditions.”

In fact, the official symbol of Oakland is a tree.

“One of the things we love about Oakland is our beautiful trees,” McElhaney said. “We are a very green city, but those trees also need maintenance and care, are subject to the whims of nature, in terms of drought, and termite, and other damage. And so we always want to caution the public to be very careful.”

However, she said a teenager climbing a tree is a part of life that she hopes continues in Oakland

“We want our young people to explore nature,” McElhaney said. “We take a great deal of pride of being an urban community that has access to nature, and so many cities across the country do not. We certainly don’t want people to become afraid of being in touch with nature”

The tree that killed Lewis has since been removed. A memorial of candles and flowers has taken its place.

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