A SCHOOLGIRL suffered serious injuries when she fell out of a tree while collecting conkers in an Accrington park.
The 13-year-old, who has not been named, was found next to a horse chestnut tree in Milnshaw Park by a man walking his dog on Sunday evening.
She had sustained head injuries, a broken arm and internal injuries and was rushed to Blackburn Royal Infirmary by paramedics, before being transferred to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital for treatment.
Phil Lynch, 73, who lives on nearby Lupin Close, said that the man who found the girl asked him to call an ambulance. He said: "We live next to the park but if it hadn't been for this man, we wouldn't have known about it. It was lucky he found her.
"She had fallen partly onto the concrete and she was in a heck of a lot of pain - she was screaming and crying. It was a big tree so she must have been up there pretty high."
Paramedic Alan Slater said that fire crews from Hyndburn Community Fire Station also attended the scene to give support.
He said: "It was getting dark when we got there and by the time we finished we were struggling to see properly. The Fire Brigade helped out by providing lights.
"The girl had been collecting conkers and it looked as if she had fallen about 12 to 15ft out of the tree. She had broken her arm and had head and internal injuries."
The incident came just days after Hyndburn Council warned that a number of trees in the borough could pose a safety hazard due to a disease affecting horse chestnuts.
Phytophthora Bleeding Canker, which causes branches to rot and become brittle, has been identified in trees at Grange Close, Great Harwood, various sites in Clayton-le-Moors, the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Altham Industrial Estate, Accrington Cemetery and the Sandy Lane campus of Accrington and Rossendale College.
Councillor Peter Brit-cliffe, leader of Hyndburn Council, said that although the disease had not yet been found in Milnshaw Park, council officers would carry out a tree inspection there in the light of the incident.
He added: "There is a warning in this to everyone - please wait for the conkers to fall instead of climbing the trees. Even if they are sound, it can be very dangerous."