The couple whose lives have been permanently impacted by the failure of a tree in Washington Square Park are continuing to speak out and hold the city responsible for the accident. As the Chronicle reports, husband Jian Cong Tan, who goes by the name "Tony," continues to question the idea that the tree in question, a Canary Island pine, was healthy and properly maintained. "Why would it drop like that if it was healthy?" Tan asks. "If they are healthy, would a branch fall?"
Further, he says that Mayor Ed Lee promised that the city would cover all of the medical expenses for his 36-year-old wife, Cui Ying Zhou, who goes by the name "Emma." But the city attorney's office won't confirm that arrangement, saying only "In general terms, whenever the city is responsible for a harm, we do everything we can to work in good faith with claimants. It’s always our hope to reach a fair resolution amicably and without the need for litigation.” They say the matter is still being investigated.
Tan already said he would like be filing suit against the city, as CBS 5 reported last week on the day that Mayor Lee visited the couple at Laguna Honda Hospital. Zhou's recovery is expected to last over 16 months, and she is not likely going to be able to walk again.
Zhou was struck by the 100-pound branch on August 12 while she was sitting on a bench at the Washington Square Park playground watching her two daughters, ages 5 and 9, playing in the sandbox. The accident left her with a skull fracture and a severed spine.
The Rec & Parks Department says that the tree in question was last assessed in 2010, and was last pruned with the help of a neighborhood association in 2013. A tree expert tells the Chronicle that Canary Island pines are not typically prone to failures like this, where the branch severed close the trunk in fairly low-wind conditions.
In addition to awaiting the city's assistance with medical bills, Tan and Zhou can also expect a sum from a GoFundMe campaign which has so far raised $30,000 of a $50,000 goal.