State settles icy US-2 crash suit for $10 million

SEATTLE -- Washington state has agreed to pay a local family $10 million after an accident during an ice storm killed their parents. Three of the four adult children in the car still live with significant handicaps after a massive tree crashed on top of them.

The environment the Owen family drove into just before Christmas in 2012 was a wintry, icy world along Highway 2 where there'd already been reports of trees falling on the roadway, but there were no road closures on the highway and no warnings. The family was ripped apart when a massive fir crashed onto their SUV, killing parents Tim and Cheryl instantly, leaving two of the kids with horrible injuries and the eldest, Jessie Owen, near death.

Today, Jessie is still a quadriplegic but after months of physical therapy she's able to walk short distances with two arm canes. "It won't ever be fast, it won't ever be perfect," says Jessie, "but it's nice to be up and walking."

Brother in law Steve Mayer's right hip will never work right and he'll likely always need an arm cane to walk; he hopes to build up his endurance to one day visit Yellowstone National Park. Sister Jaime Mayer won't ever be the runner she once was as she still needs a cane for assistance; as she puts it, "uneven ground is the enemy, uneven ground and stairs."

Jeremy, the baby of the family and self-professed 'mama's boy' says his biggest loss is the phone calls his mom, "I still miss them; I'll always miss them."

The once tight-knit family still clings to each other for stability. "We've gone to a new normal," says Jessie, "it's not better, it's not worse, but it's nice to have a little bit of finality and closure."

Jessie, Jaime and Steve had millions in medical bills and likely face future surgeries and physical therapy. "We don't know what the future is going to look like for us medically," says Jaime. The state settlement will help pay for those medical expenses.

The family also hopes it encourages the state to be more proactive in closing roads in the future. Steve Mayer adds, "we've gone through this and we really don't want anyone else to have to go through this."

For the past nearly two years they've dealt with injuries, medical bills, and a possible lawsuit. The claim against the state took too much of their attention. "For all of us the biggest thing is we just wanted to think about our parents," says Jeremy, relieved that part of the ordeal is over. Now this tight-knit family hopes to be able to focus on what's really important - family.

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