Kindergartener injured during recess when tree branch falls on him

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District officials immediately cut down the tree branches associated with snapping and falling on the child at Sugar Creek Elementary School. The trees are located near the playground behind the school.

NEW PALESTINE — Officials with the New Palestine Community Schools say it was one of the oddest accidents they’ve ever encountered at one of their schools.

Late last week, an elementary school student was taken to an area hospital with serious injuries after a tree branch fell on him.

District officials say the accident happened May 22 at Sugar Creek Elementary School during recess.

According to district officials, after being outside for a little bit, a 6-year-old kindergarten boy went to take a break and sit in the shade during recess. As he did, a large gust of wind hit the area and a tree branch above where the child was sitting cracked and fell, striking the child in the head and back.

District officials say teachers and administrators immediately rendered aid to the child, and first responders were called to the scene.

The mother of the child posted an update on her son’s condition on social media over the weekend stating that her son had suffered a skull fracture and six compression fractures of his spine due to the tree branch falling on him.

“Our thoughts are with one of our families after an unfortunate incident that occurred at Sugar Creek Elementary,” community relations director Craig Smith said in a release.

Smith said that the staff responded swiftly to ensure the student received prompt medical attention. Emergency services were contacted, and the student was transported to the hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

“The safety and well-being of our students is always a priority,” Smith said.

Smith went on to say that the district’s leadership team immediately secured the scene and conducted a thorough review of the incident to understand how it occurred and to identify any additional safety measures that were necessary in and around our campuses.

“We are committed to providing a safe learning environment for all our students and staff,” Smith said.

The boy’s mother noted that, as a way of dealing with the frustrating situation, she was cutting down all Bradford Pear trees near her home in New Palestine. The Bradford Pear is the type of tree that cracked and hit her son, officials said.

One of the teachers at the school, longtime art teacher and outdoor and nature expert Clark Fralick, posted on the mother’s Facebook site, “Bradford Pear trees are invasive and should not be planted anywhere. They have an expected lifespan of about 15 years, after that, their branches become too heavy and will snap off.”

Reports show Bradford pear trees will fall apart with time, according to a Purdue Extension publication on Bradford pears which states, “The major problem with the ‘Bradford’ Callery Pear has been too many upright branches growing too closely together on the trunk.”

When asked if all Bradford Pear trees around the playground would be removed or cut back, Smith noted that they’re always assessing and checking areas for safety and will continue to do so following this accident.

The mother of the boy said the family is thankful for all the support and is very appreciative for the prayers. She posted on social media that her son is doing better.

“He is back to his energetic self, so now we deal with trying to have him sit still,” she wrote. “We were able to video call with his class on Friday, so he didn’t miss all of kindergarten celebration.”