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Man fearful of falling branches after skull fracture begs city for help

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RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond man reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers saying dead branches falling from trees near his home are causing a dangerous situation for anyone that walks by.

Craig Utley loved his tree-lined street, which he said breathes new life into his neighborhood.

"These oaks are gorgeous. Sometimes I see hawks sitting in them,” Utley said.

But Utley said he has been warning the city about the trees and their fallen tree.

"When it rains or it gets a little windy, I don't use my front door. I don't come in the front yard. I use my back door to come and go from my house for safety issues,” Utley said.

Craig Utley

Craig Utley

Utley blamed the dead branches on the spread of fungus and rot over the years.

He has been complaining to Richmond's Department of Public Works for more than a year asking them to send someone to prune the trees.

But he said his concerns seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

"This is a neighborhood filled with a lot of young couples starting their families... walking their children or the children riding their scooters and bikes and people walking their dogs,” said Utley.


Utley's street

Last July a branch fell from the tree striking Utley in the head. He had to be admitted to the hospital and suffered a minor skull fracture.

"I don't want to sue the city that doesn't fix anything,” Utley said.

What Utley wants is a safe neighborhood, so he reached out to WTVR CBS 6 for help.

Sharon North with Richmond Department of Public Works said Urban Forestry is working with Utley to get the job done. But she couldn't say why it has taken time to address his concerns.



However, Utley has his own theory.

"With all the trees in the city, they could possibly be back logged,” Utley explained.

As a result of our story, city crews will be in Utley’s neighborhood sometime next week to prune the trees in front of his home. Additionally, DPW will schedule to prune the rest of the trees on his block for the following week.

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