December 11 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
The inquest into a 31-year-old woman who was killed by a falling branch at Kew Gardens has heard it was ‘a fluke’ that only one person was killed.
Erena Wilson, 31, originally from New Zealand but who had moved to Hanwell in west London, suffered fatal head injuries when she was hit by the Lebanese cedar branch in September last year.
The hearing at West London Coroner’s Court today heard she was walking with friends when the incident happened at the Royal Botanical Gardens in south-west London.
John McLinden QC, counsel for Miss Wilson’s family, told the inquest: “It was just a fluke that there was not more than one fatality or that other people did not suffer very serious injury.”
The death was reported to have happened during wet and windy weather conditions.
Mr McLinden said in the past Kew Gardens has taken steps to protect the public from falling branches, such as issuing warnings and cordoning off areas.
But he said ‘these steps seem to have fallen away, for reasons that the family do not know’.
The QC urged the inquest to consider ‘whether summer branch drop caused the branch to fall and whether the tree had been pruned and whether there was a policy in place at Kew at the time to deal with that’.
Assistant Coroner Elizabeth Pygott said she could not go ahead with the full inquest as she had received a large amount of new evidence in recent days.
Miss Wilson died instantly when she was hit by the branch, an earlier hearing heard, and she was pronounced dead at 2.21pm on Sunday, September 23 by paramedics.
The full inquest, which is expected to last one day, will take place on a date yet to be fixed.
Speaking after today’s hearing, her uncle, Pieter van Vliet, said the family wanted the issue of summer branch drop to be explored in the hope it might prevent further deaths.
Mr van Vliet said his niece was a regular visitor to Kew, and added her family would be ‘forever grateful’ for the support given to them by the visitor attraction since her death.