• State to pay $10 million after couple killed on Highway 2

    By: Alison Grande

    Updated:

    The State of Washington will pay $10 million to the surviving children of a couple killed in a crash on Highway 2.

    A tree fell, crushing the SUV carrying Tim and Cheryl Owen, their three adult children, and son-in-law on Dec. 21, 2012. Tim and Cheryl Owen died from the impact and their children were severely injured.  The family was heading to Leavenworth on Highway 2.

    The Owen children filed a claim against the state for the accident, claiming the state should have closed Highway 2 because of dangerous conditions.

    “They were driving through a potential war zone and had no idea a bomb was going to fall,” attorney Karen Koehler said. 

    She contends the Department of Transportation knew it was unsafe because of other trees falling in the area. Not only did they fail to close the road, there was no signage warning the public of the risk.

    “Chelan County had declared a State of Emergency, closed its roads and told people to stay home. Why didn’t the state close the road?” Koehler said. 

    Koehler also found evidence the State Patrol had asked the Department of Transportation to close the Highway 2 before the crash, but DOT refused.

    The crash severely injured the Owen children. They spent weeks in the hospital, months in physical therapy, and have been left with major life-long physical disabilities. Jessica Owen can walk short distances with crutches, otherwise she uses a wheelchair. Jaime Mayer uses a cane and her husband, Steven Mayer, uses a crutch.

    “I think with the closure of this we can now think of them in a positive light and not always associate them with the accident,” Jessica Owen said. “We can have positive memories.”

    The State Department of Transportation gave the following statement about the settlement with the Owen family:

    “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.”

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