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Trees near Capitol inspected after falling branch kills worker

WASHINGTON — After a man was killed by a falling tree branch outside the U.S. Capitol building this week, arborists who maintain the surrounding area are checking thousands of trees to see if they pose any danger, according to the Architect of the Capitol.

Matthew McClanahan, 30, was killed Tuesday morning when a part of a large American Elm tree fell on him at the corner of Independence Avenue and 1st Street in Southeast.

McClanahan was a maintenance worker with the Architect of the Capitol and was working on an irrigation pipe at the time.

“U.S. Capitol Grounds arborists monitor campus trees regularly,” said Erin Courtney, a spokeswoman with the Architect of the Capitol.

“In light of the accident on Tuesday, tree care specialists are conducting additional evaluations of all trees on the Capitol complex.”

There are about 890 trees in the immediate area around the Capitol building and more than 4,300 trees throughout the entire 274-acre Capitol grounds.

The Architect of the Capitol is a federal agency that preserves and maintains the grounds and landmark buildings.

Following Tuesday’s accident, the agency released a statement saying McClanahan was “talented and dedicated.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan also issued a statement, asking everyone to keep McClanahan’s family in their thoughts and prayers and calling the loss “sudden and unimaginable.”

McClanahan was extracted from beneath the tree branch by police and firefighters and was taken to a hospital in “extremely critical” condition, officials said. He was later pronounced dead.

Independence Avenue between 1st Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southwest was closed for most of Tuesday.

Funeral services are planned for Sunday in Annapolis, Maryland, where McClanahan was originally from.

An obituary for McClanahan said that he “was loved by many.” It called him “funny, sweet and kind” and said “he was a hard working man and proud to work at the U.S. Capitol.”

McClanahan is survived by his wife, Lauren, and two young children, Evie and Matthew.


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