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“If you drive down Marine Drive, it’s a busy highway so it’s a high-occupancy target. There’s a lot of trees abutting the road that are leaning toward the road and growing on a slope. If you look into the stands you can see that some have failed. There is a history of failure,” arborist says.

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A Vancouver arborist wants to know whether a half-rotted tree that fell across Marine Way last month and killed a driver was ever inspected.

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Norm Oberson, owner of Arbutus Tree Service, visited the site a day after the 100-foot cottonwood tree broke at its base and crashed across the road, near River District Crossing in South-east Vancouver, at around 5 pm on April 13.

The tree completely crushed the cab of a Honda sedan with Alberta plates, killing the sole occupant, and destroyed the front end of another vehicle that was following.

“I saw that the tree was completely decayed on the north side of the base at the ground level,” said Oberson, who is a registered consulting arborist and an expert witness for tree-related cases in BC Supreme Court.

Oberson said there were several reasons why the stand of trees that run north of Marine Way from Kinross Ravine Park to Sawmill Crescent should have been inspected.

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“If you drive down Marine Drive, it’s a busy highway so it’s a high-occupancy target. There’s a lot of trees butting the road that are leaning toward the road and growing on a slope. If you look into the stands you can see that some have failed. There is a history of failure,” he said.

“It’s makes common sense to have inspected them.”

The stand of trees comprise cottonwoods, red cedar, alder and maple trees.

Oberson said Vancouver park board has a contract with the City of Vancouver to inspect trees on city property to ensure they are safe.

A parks board spokesperson said the tree that fell was on city land. However, that land had been leased to a strata that had developed housing on the land above the trees.

to search on VanMap, that shows where property boundaries are, indicates the strata land does not go all the way to the roadside. Oberson said it was possible the tree could be on city property that was not part of the strata lease.

Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said an investigation into the incident was underway.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” he said, adding police would not be naming the victim.

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