In March 2016, Kristi Leigh Oliver was driving to work around 6:40 a.m. when she was struck by a falling tree. As KATU reported, a tall cedar tree broke in two and a large log rolled into the road, hitting the driver’s side of Oliver’s SUV.Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office
Mike Weber was driving approximately 150 yards behind Oliver and witnessed the accident. He told KATU: “This tree came down and hit the car so hard — tree flew everywhere; it exploded.” Weber reportedly told the outlet the accident happened so fast, Oliver likely didn’t know what hit her.
Gresham fire battalion chief, Mike Traeger, agreed. As The Oregonian reports, he said:
“She probably never had a clue it was coming.”
Oliver, 30, was four months pregnant at the time and didn’t survive her injuries. As a result, her unborn baby was lost. Multnomah County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Steve Alexander said at the time, according to KATU: “The husband is grieving … and has lost their unborn child as well as his wife.”
Jeremy Oliver, the husband of Kristi Leigh Oliver, is now suing the property owners of Southeast Oxbow Drive, where the tree fell, and Multnomah County, for $9.5 million in damages.
According to KOIN, on behalf of the estates of Kristi Leigh Oliver and her unborn child, a lawsuit filed by Jeremy Oliver alleges the property owners, Jill and Mark Harrington, had a “duty” to inspect a visibly rotten tree on their property and remove it, if it presented a danger to the public.
The lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court states, in part:
A tree [located] on the Defendants Harringtons’ property, approximately five and one half feet from the county right of way for SE Oxbow Drive… was visibly rotten to the core. The condition and location of the tree… presented a significant foreseeable danger of tree failure and substantial risk of falling onto a vehicle on SE Oxbow Drive. Defendants, each of them, had ample opportunity to see and inspect the tree on a daily basis and to observe the hazardous defects of the tree.
Multnomah County is also named in the lawsuit. Mark Harrington contended after the pregnant mother’s death that he notified county officials of the rotten tree and others in the area previously but was prohibited from removing them:
…[Mark Harrington] told County officials that something needed to be done with these trees, but the County would not let him remove them.
Jeremy Oliver’s lawsuit maintains the deaths of Kristi Leigh Oliver and her unborn child were “caused by the negligent acts and omissions” of both parties.Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office
According to KOIN, a court date is not yet known. Following the accident, Weber told KOIN the tree that hit Kristi Leigh Oliver’s car “was clearly dead for years”:
“My wife tells me ‘Don’t drive that back way because there are dead trees all along that road.'”