State to pay $10M to family for Stevens Pass tree-fall accident

 The surviving family members from a falling tree incident on U.S. 2 are seen leaving their lawyer’s office in Seattle on Friday. From left: Jeremy Owen, Jaime Mayer, Steven Mayer, and Jessica Owen.  (John Lok / The Seattle Times)

The surviving family members from a falling tree incident on U.S. 2 are seen leaving their lawyer’s office in Seattle on Friday. From left: Jeremy Owen, Jaime Mayer, Steven Mayer, and Jessica Owen.  (John Lok / The Seattle Times)

Seattle Times

September 5, 2014
By Alexa Vaughn
Twitter @alexavaughn
avaughn@seattletimes.com

Four family members who survived a 2012 accident in which a huge tree fell onto an SUV on Highway 2 near Stevens Pass will receive $10 million from the state, in a tentative settlement announced by the family Friday.

The Owen family of Bothell was heading to Leavenworth for a Christmas vacation Dec. 21 – days after a rare, severe ice storm had hit Western Washington – when a large tree landed on their SUV, instantly killing Tim Owen, 58, and Cheryl Reed Owen, 56, who were in the front seats.

The couple’s three adult children and a son-in-law survived. The couple’s son walked away with minor injuries. But Jessica Owen, Jaime Owen Mayer and Steven Mayer all sustained serious injuries that are expected to hamper their mobility for years to come. Jessica Owen suffered an especially serious spinal injury, and the former Frank Love Elementary School teacher now uses a motorized wheelchair. Though still quadriplegic, intense physical therapy has made it possible for her to walk with forearm crutches for short periods of time.