Fri, 11 Feb 2000

Gardener killed by falling tree in Pondok Indah

JAKARTA (JP): An employee of a gardening firm died instantly when a giant tree was toppled by strong winds and rain on Thursday afternoon in South Jakarta.

He was struck by the tree while working at a gas station in the posh Pondok Indah housing estate.

Passers-by and a city park agency truck worked hard assisting police officers remove the corpse of Suhardi, 26.

His body was pinned by a big tree, whose trunk has a diameter of more than one meter, while his head was lying near the edge of a stamping machine he was using to compact the soil at the gas station compound.

Officer Sukirman from the South Jakarta Police said the victim and his colleague, Sabaruddin, were employees of PT Saras Diponegoro gardening firm, which was hired by the gas station management to build a small park within the compound.

"The gas station management also wanted the trees around it to be cut down," he said at the scene.

At the time, the two were working with the stamper at the site, the officer said.

Sabaruddin recalled: "Suddenly, I felt leaves falling on my face, and heard the noise of the tree ... just about to fall.

I let go of the belt of the machine and ran from beneath the falling tree without thinking of Subardi."

According to Sabaruddin, his friend, who was operating the machine, might not have heard the sounds from the falling tree since the stamper itself was so noisy.

"It was rainy also," he said.

Shortly after the accident, a few employees of the company came to the scene but did nothing to assist recovery of Suhardi's body.

Local police officers finally asked the gas station's employees for help cutting branches, but there was no significant result until a truck from the city park agency arrived.

At first the driver used the truck's winch to pull on the body.

Unfortunately, to the horror of onlookers, the driver had attached the cable to the head and the effort tore off half of the corpse's face. Some of his brain was seen falling out.

Officer Sukirman immediately ordered the driver of the truck to stop the winch.

Sukirman and his colleagues then decided to dig the mud from under the entangled corpse. When there was enough space between the wet soil and the corpse, the officers slowly pulled out the corpse.

Suhardi was originally from Kulon Progo, Kali Gintung in Gintung, Wates, East Java.

A similar accident occurred on Tuesday in Bogor.

Two people were seriously injured and four cars damaged when a 100-year-old Agathis tree was toppled by strong winds and rain on one of the town's main thoroughfares, Jl. Padjadjaran.

The accident occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. in front of Cafe Spektrum. The 16-meter tall and one-meter wide Agathis tree, known locally as a Damar, fell on a passing pickup driven by Iskandar and Uus.

The two victims suffered injuries to their faces and hands from pieces of broken glass from the truck's windshield.

They were taken to PMI Hospital for treatment.

Three other cars - a Kijang van and two public minivans -- were also damaged by the falling tree, but no one in those vehicles was injured.

The accident caused a traffic jam which cleared up some three hours later. Witnesses said the tree was toppled by strong winds.

"This accident would not have happened if the local administration took care of the old trees in Bogor," a local resident said, adding that a number of trees along the streets of Bogor were between dozens and hundreds of years old. (ylt/21/edt)