Bothell family fights to recover after tragic tree accident



Posted on January 31, 2013 at 12:15 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 12:20 AM

SEATTLE -- Inside a hospital room at Harborview, 6th grade teacher Jessie Owen faces so many obstacles. Last month, a tree crushed her family's vehicle as they traveled along Highway 2 toward Leavenworth. 

"I've lost my mom and dad and the ability to move," said Jessie. "I am paralyzed from my shoulders down. I can feel things now, but I don't have a ton of movement."

On December 21, Tim Owen and his wife Cheryl were in the front seat of their white Chevy Tahoe, and their adult children were in the back. A tree fell and landed on top of the vehicle. Tim and Cheryl did not survive.  Jessie, her sister Jaime, and Jaime's husband Steven were seriously hurt. Jessie's brother Jeremy was able to walk away from the accident.

"It has certainly been a tragedy that has been really hard to wrap my heart around," said Jessie.

Jaime and Steven are recovering together at a skilled nursing facility. The have many broken bones and internal injuries. Moving around is still very difficult.

"Their love for each other shows. Jaime misses him. They haven't really touched even though they are in the same room, and I think it breaks their hearts," said Jessie.

Jeremy is back at college, but he makes frequent visits to check on his sisters.

"Jeremy is a fighter. He is strong and brave and it is just a miracle he wasn't injured," said Jessie. "He is being very protective of his sisters right now."

As for Jessie, her hospital room is decorated with posters that list the doctor's goals for her and notes of encouragement from students, friends, and even strangers. She said it motivates her.

"There is no other option, I will be walking. The doctors say they don't know, but if they don't know, I do. It is what keeps me positive. There's gotta be good stuff and we are going to find it," said Jessie.

When it gets overwhelming, Jessie finds strength in her family.

"I am so proud of Jaime, Jeremy and Steven. They are so strong," she said.

The family plans to heal together.

While Jessie Owen, Jaime Owen Mayer, and Steven Mayer have insurance, they anticipate lots of bills that will last for many years. To help, family and friends have set up a fund to assist them. Learn more on how to help here.

Karen Koehler is a representative for the family, and she wants to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the accident on December 21, 2012. You can email her at