Snow-laden branch kills man in Central Park

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Central Park during the winter.
Image: Taís Melillo.

A snow-laden tree branch killed a man on Literary Walk in Central Park in Manhattan on Thursday. The body was later identified as Elmaz Qyra, a middle-aged resident of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Qyra was found by a passerby around 3:30 p.m. local time (11:30 UTC), and was pronounced dead by authorities at the scene.

One witness, who would not release his name, said, "It was obviously a direct hit to his head. There was this big pool of blood spreading through the snow. It was horrifying."

Qyra's shift at The New York Athletic Club (NYAC) had likely just ended. "It happened at the time he finished working. He might have been trying to get home." said Gaz Bharmi, Qyra's brother-in-law. "The breaking of the branch and the other fallen trees were likely caused by the accumulation of wet, unusually heavy snow," the New York Parks Department said in a statement.

Qyra, an immigrant from Albania, came to New York with his family ten years ago in order provide them with a better life. Qyra "loved" Central Park, and would regularly have his teenage children meet him there after finishing his health club shift. "He goes there every summer with the kids to take picture and have hot dogs," Bharmi remarked. Cesar Zuzunaga, Qyra's NYAC supervisor said, "He was always talking about his family, and he was family to us here."

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday.