Courier Life’s

Sandy-stricken zombtrees draw first blood

Fallen branch gives local man a concussion — and a mission

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A Coney Island man is on a mission from god, and he just might be the only thing standing between mankind and the zombie treepocalypse.

Martin Novitsky, was struck in the head by a massive falling tree branch on the Boardwalk on July 6, becoming the first documented human casualty at the boughs of the hundreds of trees killed by Hurricane Sandy. But the nephew of the late Rabbi Abraham Abraham Novitsky says god spared his life, so that he can serve as our champion in the battle against the onslaught of dead trees.

“I was given the gift of life,” said Novitsky, “and I’m on a mission.”

Novitsky, a member of the Ice Breakers Winter Swim Club, was passing Ocean Parkway on his way across the Boardwalk, when he heard a crack and suddenly found himself laid out on the ground, dizzy, and with a splitting headache.

“A huge branch from the top of a tree hit me on the head, directly in the skull,” Novitsky recalled.

The self-proclaimed “macho ice breaker” then tried to walk off his injuries, and might have forgone any medical assistance if paramedics hadn’t convinced him he might still die from the blow due to bleeding inside his skull.

“I was like, ‘ok I’ll deal with this,’ ” he said. “I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but the paramedics told me my brain might be bleeding, ‘you gotta go.’ ”

At Lutheran Medical Center, doctors echoed the concerns of the paramedics and warned Novitsky he would likely have to endure multiple surgeries to curtail the suspected internal bleeding and brain damage.

“I thought my life was over,” he said.

But then, perhaps miraculously, scans of Novitsky’s brain showed no signs of internal bleeding, and while the burly man suffered a nasty concussion and a wicked black eye, he was, for all intents and purposes, unharmed.

Even the doctors couldn’t believe it, he said.

“A doctor told me there’s no medical explanation why I didn’t die,” said Novitsky. “This is not a coincidence, this is scientific proof that there is something else.”

Novitsky’s mission began immediately after he left the doctor, when, still dizzy and reeling from his concussion, he headed to the local precinct and began pleading for assistance with the hazardous foliage.

“I went straight from the hospital to the 60th Precinct,” he said. “I had to let them know they have to put tape around the tree area, but they said ‘we’re not tree people, call 311.’ ”

And for the next week, Novitsky would get that a lot, as agencies and politicians kept passing the buck, or making empty promises, or simply ignoring his pleas.

Meanwhile, the leafy menace persisted — looming over the fabled Boardwalk where families and seniors unsuspectingly enjoyed the sinister shade.

“There are about 25 trees that were at right angles, with the roots half in and half out ready to fall right in that section of the Boardwalk,” said the arboreal avenger. “Somebody was going to get killed.”

But help did come eventually, according to Novitsky. Later that week, he returned to the Boardwalk at Ocean Parkway, and discovered that 20 of the dead-but-dangerous trees had been felled.

“I went to sleep that night, and I woke up at 10 at night, and the trees were gone,” he said.

The city Parks Department said it was alerted to the threat when Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D–Brighton Beach) passed along Novitsky’s compliant.

The agency dispatched tree surgeons to the site to prune threatening branches and remove dead trees in the area.

The concussed crusader said there are still teetering trees out there poised to strike, and that his mission won’t be over until all of Southern Brooklyn is safe from the zombtree menace.

“The doctor told me ‘there is no explanation in science why you didn’t bleed,’ ” Novitsky said. “God saved me, because how many people you know would have fought these people for weeks with a severe concussion to save somebody’s life?”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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Reader Feedback

Christopher Twist from Brooklyn descendant says:
I sense a screenplay is in the works. Good for Mr Novitsky, zombtree slayer! Good story!
Aug. 3, 2013, 2:39 pm
mike from vegas says:
g-d was watching over you!
Oct. 29, 2013, 5:23 pm
mike from vegas says:
go to shul, put on tefillin, and thank hashem!
Oct. 29, 2013, 5:28 pm
mike from vegas says:
go to shul, wear tefillin, and thank hashem
Oct. 29, 2013, 5:29 pm

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