Bothell family files claims against state in Highway 2 crash

 From Seattle Times: Jessica Owen works with physical therapist Josh Golden at Harborview Medical Center for injuries from the accident.

From Seattle Times: Jessica Owen works with physical therapist Josh Golden at Harborview Medical Center for injuries from the accident.

Seattle Times

May 14, 2013
By Alexa Vaugn
Twitter @alexavaughn
avaughn@seattletimes.com

Claims that could turn into a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the state were filed Tuesday by a Bothell family that lost two parents when an ice-heavy tree struck their SUV east of Stevens Pass in December. 

The six claims filed with the state Attorney General’s Office say that the state Department of Transportation should have closed Highway 2 east of Stevens Pass long before the tree crushed the Owen family on the afternoon of Dec. 21. The accident instantly killed parents Tim Owen, 58, and Cheryl Reed Owen, 56. It crushed and severely injured their daughters Jessica Owen, 27, and Jaime Owen-Mayer, 25; and son-in-law Steven Mayer, 25, as well. Son Jeremy Owen, 22, was the only person to walk away from the accident, but not without emotional scars.

In the days preceding the accident, more than 100 trees in the area had snapped under the weight of heavy ice and snow left by an unusually severe ice storm, according to Chelan County. Dispatch records show that on Dec. 20, at least three trees fell onto Highway 2, including a large one that blocked traffic in both directions less than a mile from where the Owen family accident would happen the next day.

By Dec. 19, the Chelan County’s Unified Command Structure had already issued an emergency declaration for the Lake Wenatchee area near the highway, closed several roads and discouraged driving in the area.

The claims filed Tuesday allege that the tree that fell on the Owen family snapped for the same reason hundreds of other trees in Lake Wenatchee and Mount Baker areas had in previous days. But unlike the Mount Baker Highway, which was closed for several days, Highway 2 was kept open by state transportation officials until a second vehicle was hit on the highway the day after the Owen family vehicle was hit.