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updated: 6/8/2014 5:54 PM

Three injured by falling branch at Cantigny Park in Wheaton

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Three patrons at Cantigny Park in Wheaton were injured Sunday afternoon when a branch from one of the oldest trees on the property fell and struck them.

Park Spokesman Phil Zepeda said that the three individuals were on the east side of the McCormick Museum about 1 p.m. when they heard the loud snap of the branch breaking off the tree above them. Zepeda said the patrons tried to run to safety, but were struck by the falling limb.

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Two of the individuals, whose identities are not known to the park's staff, were taken to Central DuPage Hospital to be treated for their injuries. The third person refused treatment and left the park.

Zepeda said Cantigny's horticulture staff constantly monitors the health of the park's trees.

"Our priority is the safety of all of our guests," Zepeda said, adding that Cantigny staff roped off the area around the tree after the accident.

Park officials have not yet decided what to do with the tree, which is believed to be 300 years old and one of the largest on the property.

The tree held special significance to Robert McCormick, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune in the early 20th century. According to the Cantigny Park website, the tree, known as the Bur Oak Tree, was protected by McCormick during the construction of the east side addition to his mansion, which now houses the McCormick Museum. McCormick paid special attention to the tree's root system and designed a bathroom so as to avoid cutting important roots.

Zepeda said the fate of the tree may be determined by the end of the week.

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