Arborist weighs in on possible cause of deadly tree branch collapse

Published: Jul. 4, 2018 at 3:41 PM CDT
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The Rock Island County Sheriff has launched an investigation into what caused a large tree branch to collapse at Red, White and Boom in Rock Island Tuesday killing two people.

The branch was 8' 2'' in circumference at its base, and 45 feet long, according to Sheriff Gerald Bustos.

"The oak tree that we are talking about, I believe to be about 100 years old," Bustos said. "It has been on the courthouse lawn for every picture I can find going back in history."

The ongoing investigation will include an arborist to look for any potential cause of the collapse. The sheriff, and locally trained arborist, Mickey Covert, say the tree appears healthy.

"This is a healthy tree," Covert said. "Many trees have dead on it and on the tips."

Covert told KWQC that based on his training, he believes that water and moisture got gathered in the area where the branch met the tree.

"What we have here is what we call the branch collar," Covert said demonstrating his belief on a tree across from the Rock Island County Courthouse... "The weight of the lead affected all the moisture and stuff that was gathering right here. It started with water and moisture gathering."

Covert said they water and moisture can create rot, which allows for a hole to develop allowing animals or bugs to get into the tree.

"You couldn't tell from the outside how big the hole was with normal maintenance who much it was rotten in the inside," Covert said. "I don't think this could have been prevented."

The tree is cared for by the Sheriff's Office, according to Sheriff Bustos.

"Because of this tragic incident, we are going to be looking at all of the tress there and do whatever we can to keep that area safe," the sheriff said.

Bustos says that an arborist will be apart of the investigation, but he does not believe the tree is salvageable.