Questions raised over inspection of Vancouver tree that crushed car, killing driver

“If you’re driving on Marine Drive, it’s a busy highway, so it’s a high occupancy target. There are a lot of trees along the road leaning towards the road and growing on an incline. If you look into the stands, you can see some have fallen. There is a history of failure,” the arborist says.

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A Vancouver arborist wants to know if a half-rotten tree that fell on Marine Way last month and killed a driver has ever been inspected.

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Norm Oberson, owner of Arbutus Tree Service, visited the site a day after the 100ft poplar snapped at its base and crashed into the road, near River District Crossing in southeastern Vancouver, around 5 p.m. on April 13.

The tree completely crushed the cab of a Honda sedan with Alberta plates, killing the sole occupant, and destroyed the front of another following vehicle.

“I saw that the tree was completely decomposed on the north side of the base at ground level,” said Oberson, a licensed consultant arborist and expert witness for tree-related cases before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. .

Oberson said there were several reasons why the stand of trees that stretched north of Marine Way from Kinross Ravine Park to Sawmill Crescent should have been inspected.

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“If you’re driving on Marine Drive, it’s a busy highway, so it’s a high occupancy target. There are many trees along the road leaning towards the road and growing on a slope. If you look in the bleachers, you can see that some have fallen. There is a history of failure,” he said.

“It makes sense to have them inspected.”

The tree stand includes cottonwoods, red cedars, alders and maples.

Oberson said the Vancouver Park Board has a contract with the City of Vancouver to inspect trees on city property to ensure they are safe.

A spokesperson for the parks board said the tree that fell was on municipal land. However, this land had been leased to a stratum who had developed housing on the land above the trees.

A search on VanMap, which shows where the property lines are, indicates that the stratum terrain does not extend to the edge of the road. Oberson said it’s possible the tree is on city property that wasn’t part of the strata lease.

Vancouver Police Department spokesman Sgt. Steve Addison said an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” he said, adding that police would not name the victim.

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