Baby dies from falling branch in Central Park Zoo

June 26, 2010 8:27:44 PM PDT
A falling tree branch killed a 6-month-old baby and injured her mother at the Central Park Zoo.

It happened inside the zoo at 65th Street and 5th Avenue around 2 p.m.

It had been a perfect afternoon in the park which was punctuated with the snap of a huge branch, which slammed down on a mother holding her 6 month old daughter.

It was a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Ricciutti family was taking a photo near the entrance to the sea lion exhibit at the Central Park Zoo when the unexpected happened.

Six month old baby Giannal hit the ground and witnesses say she never cried so they knew she was badly hurt.

The father who was taking a picture of his wife, Carla, and baby Gianna, rushed to his daughter's side as park goers realized they were just a few feet from a family tragedy.

Carla Ricciutti was listed in stable condition at the Weill-Cornell Medical Center on Saturday night.

Max Pulsinelli, a spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, said he could not comment on the accident beyond what the police had said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family," he said.

It's the second fatality caused by a tree branch this year at Central Park.

A 46-year-old man died in February when a branch heavy from snow fell and hit him.

In July 2009, a Google engineer was knocked unconscious after being hit on the head by a rotted tree branch at the park.