Woman killed by falling branch at Kew Gardens ‘was given no warning’


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The Independent Online

A woman was killed by a falling branch at Kew Gardens after staff failed to put up warning signs despite heavy rain, an inquest jury has heard.

Erena Wilson, 31, of Hanwell, west London, was strolling through the Royal Botanical Gardens during birthday celebrations for her friend’s three-year-old daughter in September 2012 when she died. John McLinden QC, the Wilson family’s lawyer, told the inquest at West London Coroner’s Court that it had rained heavily in the hours leading up to the accident.

Tree branches are vulnerable to dropping off suddenly when they endure long dry spells followed by heavy rain – a condition known as “summer branch drop”, the court heard. But Kew Gardens failed to put up signs warning of the danger because it deemed the risk to be minimal, Mr McLinden said. The branch smashed into Ms Wilson’s backpack. She suffered bruising and a brain injury. A pathologist found she died from “multiple injuries”.

Ms Wilson, an account manager, was born in Wellington, New Zealand, but was living in London.

The inquest continues.