Man escapes with cuts after 60ft tree falls on him

A PLUMBER narrowly escaped serious injury on Sunday after a tree fell on his van and almost crushed him.

Gabriel Moreti, 27, from Adelaide Road, escaped with severe cuts and bruises after the False Acacia tree in Primrose Gardens crashed down towards him.

A witness to the incident reported the tree as being rotten to Camden Council over a year and a half ago – but nothing was done.

Plumber Steve Roos, who had hired Mr Moreti for a plumbing job, said: “The tree was suffering from rot. I told the council a year and a half ago, but they said the neighbours wouldn’t like it if it was cut down.”

At around 12pm on Sunday, the two men were loading the van outside Mr Roos’ house. Mr Roos spoke to Mr Moreti, who was next to the van parked outside, from a first floor window before turning away.

“I heard this groaning noise and thought ‘What on earth is that?’,” said Mr Roos. “I looked out of the window and saw the tree coming down towards Gabriel. I screamed at him to get in the van.”

Mr Moreti managed to get inside the van without the trunk of the tree hitting him, but was struck on the back by falling branches.

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“The side door of the van was open and I jumped in,” Mr Moreti told the Ham&High. “I was hit on the back, and then hit my head on the boxes inside the van.”

The trunk of the tree slammed into the roof of the van, leaving behind a heavy dent.

“I think I’m lucky to be alive,” Mr Moreti added.

Residents of Primrose Gardens were stunned by the incident.

Jeremy Hoare was working at his computer when he heard the commotion.

“I was sitting at the computer and then I heard the tree going down. It was like a bomb going off,” he said.

“I’ve lived here for 25 years and the tree has always been there and then it suddenly came down. It was huge – probably 50 or 60ft.”

Belsize Park resident Alan Melkman, 66, was visiting his son.

He added: “The wind wasn’t blowing that hard and these things normally happen at night whereas this was in the middle of the day.”

A Camden Council spokesman said: “Our previous inspections of the tree prior to this incident indicate that this was a highly unusual event, as despite appearing healthy it had significant decay within its core.

“We have in place a thorough tree maintenance programme and during our inspections and summer works on this tree there were no outward signs of decay. We are committed to maintaining high-quality open spaces for residents to enjoy and we will be planting a new tree at the gardens soon.”