Bothell family, injured by falling tree, forges ahead

SEATTLE — Tim and Cheryl Owen taught their children to be strong.

It’s a trait they desperately need right now.

“I’m not really sure how we would be improving at all if we were not taught that strength in our lives. It would be very hard to go on,” said Jessie Owen.

The 27-year-old Bothell woman lost her parents Dec. 21 when a large tree crashed down on their Chevrolet Suburban as they drove over the Stevens Pass Highway. Also in the car were Jessie, her brother, Jeremy Owen, 22, Cheney; her sister, Jaimie Owen Mayer, 24, of Seattle; and Jaime’s husband, Steven Mayer, 24.

Jeremy was sitting in the far back seat and escaped serious injury. Jessie, Jaimie and Steven were in the middle back seat and suffered life-threatening injuries.

Jessie’s spinal cord was damaged and she may be paralyzed from the shoulders down. Jaimie and Steven suffered multiple broken bones and are recovering, in the same room, at a Seattle nursing facility.

At the time of the accident, the family was headed to Leavenworth where they planned to “snowshoe, play games, sled and hang out together before Christmas,” Jessie said by telephone from Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday.

The drive, she said, was normal. “We weren’t worried about anything.”

Her father was driving the family over the pass when their vehicle was struck by a falling tree at about 1:20 p.m. They were about 21 miles west of Leavenworth.

The crash closed Highway 2 for about four hours that day, said state Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Adamson. The next day, when more heavy snow caused dozens of trees to slump over the highway, another tree fell across the highway onto a car, injuring five people, one of them seriously. The state closed the highway for four days — until Christmas Day. The storm toppled trees across powerlines, knocking out power to many homes in the Lake Wenatchee area. Some were without power for more than a week.

Jessie said she can’t remember anything about the accident. But she does recall the help they got afterward. “I want to thank all the first responders in the Wenatchee area for coming to our rescue and taking such good care of us, and to those who stopped and got out of their cars to check on us,” Jessie said. “Even though it was a devastating scene, they stayed with us, prayed with us and were really big comforters.”

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