Pitt Town death prompts schools to tree cull

Tragedy: The tree at Pitt Town Public School is removed earlier this year. One of its falling branches killed  Bridget Wright, 8, during her lunch break. Picture: James Brickwood

Tragedy: The tree at Pitt Town Public School is removed earlier this year. One of its falling branches killed Bridget Wright, 8, during her lunch break. Picture: James Brickwood

More than 5000 trees have been chopped down in NSW school grounds following the playground accident in February at Pitt Town Public School in which eight-year-old Bridget Wright was killed by a limb falling from a gum tree.

The Department of Education confirmed that arborist assessments had been conducted at 89 per cent of government schools and that 5042 trees had been removed, with an estimated 20 in the Hawkesbury region.

As the Department of Education couldn’t confirm with the Gazette exactly how many trees in the area had been taken down, a number of schools told the paper openly how many they have had removed. 

Eight trees have been removed from Ebenezer Public, four from Colo Heights Public, three from Kurrajong East Public, two from Londonderry Public and one from Kurmond Public and Hawkesbury High School. 

Cattai Public, Glossodia Public and Windsor Park Public also confirmed with the Gazette that they have had trees removed in the past six months but the total amount was unknown. 

The completion of the removal of trees at school sites is expected to be completed by the end of September.

On the day of Bridget’s death, a seven-metre branch fell from a tree in the playground at the school at lunch time, also injuring Matilda Hurst, 5, and her brother Thomas, 7, as well as teacher Warren Minton. 

The tree was immediately removed. 

It has been reported by the Sydney Morning Herald that Mark Hartley, a director of peak industry body Arboriculture Australia, visited the school and photographed the damaged branch which he said had sustained a fracture probably about three months before the accident.

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