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A man was struck by a falling tree branch between the University Chapel and Firestone Library at approximately 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 15. The eight-foot branch fell from a height of about 25 feet, knocking the man to the ground and tearing a gash in his right calf. 

Passersby tried to assist before medical personnel arrived. The man was taken to the hospital alert and conscious, with injuries to his face and right leg. 

Visiting journalism professor Jim Dwyer was walking from Washington Road when he witnessed the incident. 

“I heard the snap of the tree, which was quite a loud sound. I saw it tumbling,” said Dwyer. “At first I thought it didn’t get anybody.” 

He later saw the man bleeding profusely from the face and leg.

“Public Safety officers responding to a 911 call about the incident found the man, who is not affiliated with the University, conscious and able to respond to questions,” acting University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote in a statement. “He was transported to a local hospital by the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.” 

According to Dwyer, the man who was injured had been walking with four other individuals, one of whom is a junior at the University. The man was visiting from England and was five minutes into a tour of the campus when he was struck by the branch. 

Dwyer sees this incident as a warning of the dangers of unpruned trees. 

“The deceptive thing about tree branches, even dead ones, is that they have enormous weight,” Dwyer said. “We live among all these mature trees, and they have to be tended to.” 

This past winter has seen dozens of fallen trees and hundreds of scattered branches and debris. A quick succession of four winter storms in March prompted the University’s maintenance teams to prepare for and assess damages done to campus trees. Crews have spent hours clearing debris and removing hazardous branches. 

Dwyer believes that constant monitoring and a commitment to tree pruning are required to prevent such incidents in the future. 

“We all have seen the branches that came down this winter,” Dwyer said. “Anyone could see that there are a lot of hazards over our heads here.”

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