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Rosemount boy hospitalized at Regions following tree accident in city park

Emergency personnel carry a young boy to a waiting stretcher after evaluating him as he lay beneath the tree branches of large oak limb in Glen Park.

A frightening incident in River Falls' Glen Park Saturday afternoon sent an 11-year-old boy to the hospital for the night and apparently left several other youngsters with scrapes and bruises.

A large limb broke from a mature oak about 1:20 p.m. and fell across a group of children gathered on a lawn. The kids were part of a larger group centered in a nearby shelter for a reunion of the Erlandson/Olson family descendents.

"Darlene Jorgenson or "DJ" as she's known to relatives, was at the park for a family reunion of the Erlandson/Olson family. The injured child was the son of Darleen's cousin, Kelly Holland."

Jorgenson said the kids were about to board a nearby teeter-totter when the accident occurred. That playground apparatus was covered by several heavy limbs.

Aric Holland, 11, was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he was hospitalized overnight and released Sunday afternoon after doctors diagnosed a fracture of a vertebre in his neck, a mild concussion, abrasions and bruises, according to his mother, Kelly Holland.

Doctor's described the boy's injury as a "coal shoveler's fracture".

"I am praising God that these injuries are mild and will heal. So much more -- especially with Aric -- could have happened. The doctors said he was so fortunate. Most tree injuries they see leave life-altering injuries.

"The trauma my family experienced will take some time more time to deal with," Kelly wrote in a message to the Journal.

Two other Holland children, Ella, 6, and Samuel, 3, were also nearby but escaped unhurt, she said.

Dale Jorgenson of River Falls, one of Ruth's sons, had high praise for River Falls first-responders, EMTs and firefighters, who responded to the call in large numbers within minutes.

"Wow. Those guys are fast!" said Jorgenson. "What a freak accident."

A guard at the nearby Glen Park pool said she heard a loud "crack" about 1:20 p.m. and thought someone was lighting firecrackers until she heard shouting and noticed adults pulling several children from beneath leaves and branches of the fallen oak.

Jorgenson said the kids all ran -- fortunately, in the right direction -- when they heard the limb crack.

River Falls police, fire and ambulance personnel were on the scene within about five minutes. At least 50 people circled the scene as medics tended to the injured boy. Arriving firefighters took over positions holding back branches to create a work area for caregivers until the boy was stabilized and loaded onto a backboard to be moved.

He was conscious and appeared to be talking with medics throughout the incident. His aunt said he had some blood on his head, possibly from a laceration.

The limb split from the body of the tree about 25 feet up, tearing away a five-foot portion of the trunk and falling to the east. Portions of the fallen limb and attached branches were more than a foot diameter.

Neither the portion of the tree still standing nor the fallen limb showed any damage from storms that pummeled the city the previous night but it was likely heavier than usual due to five-plus inches of rain that fell over the last day.

Once the boy was moved, three firefighters with chain saws attacked the fallen limb while a half-dozen others hauled brush to a nearby roadside.

One firefighter said River Falls crews were out most of the night, answering calls for at least one lightning strike and assisting the Hudson department at house fire there.

Forty-acre Glen Park is the oldest park in the city, established in 1898 and features many old growth oaks. The nearby shelter and swimming pool were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The venue is a favorite for family gatherings and events through the warm season.

The area was known as Powell's Woods when it was acquired by the city 1898 in an effort to establish a city park. The park once even featured a zoo with two bears -- Billy & Betty -- according to a recently published "River Falls in Bloom: The Commemorative Book".

Look for more details on the accident in the Aug. 13 edition of the River Falls Journal.