Woman killed in Bronx pool by falling tree identified

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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David Novarro reports 59-year-old Donna Douglas lived at the River Terrace Apartments on Palisades Avenue in Riverdale.

RIVERDALE, Bronx (WABC) -- The woman who was killed when a huge tree fell into a pool in the Bronx on Monday has been identified.

Authorities said 59-year-old Donna Douglas lived at the River Terrace Apartments on Palisades Avenue in the Riverdale section, where the tree fell into the private pool just after 1:30 p.m.

Douglas was pronounced dead at the scene.

"She was dead instantly," building resident Mike Gallo said. "There was no, even if EMS was here on the spot, they couldn't resuscitate her. She got hit in the head pretty hard."

A day later, there is still so much disbelief over the freak accident that happened in the blink of an eye.

"A loss of life like that, it's just unimaginable," resident Sebastian Bliffeld said. "It's unimaginable."

The building superintendent jumped into water, fully clothed, after his daughter who was working as the lifeguard alerted him and called 911.

"Her body was under the branches, so I pull her out," the super, Alex Syku, said. "And when I pull her out, I saw her, she was no...she was dead."

Douglas worked from home in the high rise, and every afternoon, she would meet a neighbor to swim laps during a break.

That friend, a 72-year-old woman, was treated and released for bruises on her head.

"They were swimming maybe 2 feet apart from each other, and at the end of the day, someone's going home and someone's not," Gallo said. "It was just horrific."

Residents say the pool in the co-op building is always staffed with lifeguards, and that there were no visible issues with the 70-foot tree that stood on the wooded property of the neighboring building.

"For me personally, it was an additional point of reference to enjoy every day to the fullest," another neighbor said. "Because you just don't know what's going to happen."

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of the death.

The New York City parks department said the tree is not under its jurisdiction, and it not yet clear what caused it to fall.

The incident happened two days after a man was killed by a tree while he was sitting on a bench in Brooklyn.

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