City removes tree after teen's fatal accident near Lake Merritt

- Jack Lewis, the 16-year-old boy who was accidently killed in Oakland Friday night while he was climbing a tree with friends, will be remembered Monday night. In the meantime, the tree he was climbing has been removed by the city.

Lewis, a popular student at Oakland Technical High School, was climbing in the tree near Grand Avenue and Harrison Street with several other minors around 6 p.m. Friday when a limb broke, hitting him in the head, according to police.

Lewis fell to the ground, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The death is being investigated as an accident, police said.

Oakland city officials said Monday that they have removed the acacia tree that Lewis was climbing in near Children’s Fairyland at Lake Merritt.
   
“With respect to the City’s general procedures for trees, the City’s crews respond within 24 hours to reports of trees that are imminent hazards,” said Oakland Public Works in a written statement Monday.

City officials said that response includes arboricultural inspectors and certified arborists.

According to the boy’s family, other trees in the area were checked for safety by city crews after Jack’s death.

City officials told the family the tree could have been cut earlier, but arborists have many trees to monitor.

Friends have maintained a steady presence at the scene of the accident.

“He was a really energetic kid, friendly, outgoing. He was a dedicated boy scout. This has been a really hard time in the world. We’ve had a lot of violence; intentional and harmful and now we’re having this random act of nature violence. It’s very hard to fathom for us,” said a spokeswoman from Oakland Unified School District.
   
"Yesterday's tragic accident was a heartbreaking loss for our city, but most especially for the family and friends of the young man who was fatally injured in an accident involving a tree at Lake Merritt," Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement Saturday.
   
"I join with Oaklanders across our city in expressing my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of this young man who was taken too soon," Schaaf said.

It’s not the first time that a tree has fallen near Lake Merritt. Just before Thanksgiving in 2013, a windstorm knocked over a eucalyptus tree near the Lake Chalet restaurant. The tree was about 150 years old, but no one was hurt.

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