State to pay $10 million to family for deadly 2012 tree-falling accident at Stevens Pass
SEATTLE — Family members who survived a deadly 2012 tree-falling accident on Stevens Pass that killed their parents reached a $10 million settlement with the state, according to their attorney.
In December 2012, Tim and Cheryl Owen were killed when a 125-foot tree came down on top of their SUV.
“I know we’ve been thinking a lot about my mom and dad lately, constantly on my mind,” said their daughter Jessica Owen.
Jessica, her brother Jeremy, her sister Jaime Mayer, and Jaime’s husband, Steven Mayer, were all in the backseat at the time of the accident. The family was traveling from Bothell to Leavenworth on U.S. 2.
Jessica, Jaime, and Steven all suffered permanent injuries. All three have difficulty walking.
The family believes the Washington State Department of Transportation ignored warnings about the snow causing trees to fall and didn’t act fast enough to close the highway.
"The question was: Was this an accident or was this something that was preventable," said the family's attorney, Karen Koehler.
Koehler said nearby local roads were closed because of the falling trees and weather conditions. The family believes it was the state’s responsibility to protect drivers.
"We are all in our twenties so I think about how many years with our parents did we lose, probably decades," said Jaime Mayer.
The WSDOT issued this statement:
“This was a tragic and serious incident for members of the Owen family and our thoughts remain with them. The state has entered into a negotiated settlement with the Owen family. The settlement will be funded from the state’s self-insured liability account.
"Safety is a top priority for WSDOT and we work to reduce the risk of roadway incidents by coordinating with the state patrol and other law enforcement partners when conditions affect travel.”
The medical bills for the family are in the millions of dollars, according to their attorney. The money will be used to cover the cost of care and any future expenses.
"It is nice to have a little bit of finality and closure," said Jessica Owen.