Tragedy at Stevens Pass: 'They didn't deserve this at all'

Tragedy at Stevens Pass: 'They didn't deserve this at all'
Tim and Cheryl Owen
BOTHELL, Wash. - A mother and father who were killed in front of their adult children when a tree came crashing down on their vehicle at Stevens Pass were remembered as devoted parents Saturday as friends struggled to come to terms with the tragic loss.

Tim and Cheryl Owen of Bothell were on a family outing with their three children and a son-in-law Friday when a large tree, weighed down by heavy snow, came crashing down on their Chevy Suburban as they drove through the pass.

"I know these people, and they're amazing people," says longtime family friend Kris Wilhelmy, who got to know them when Tim was her soccer coach. "They didn't deserve this at all."

She described the Owen family as inseparable, and she's not surprised they were all on a family getaway together.

"It just makes it all that more real," she says, fighting back tears. "It's such a tragedy. ... Everyone's hearts are heavy, hearing this horrible news."

The entire Owen family was driving near Leavenworth on Friday through a heavy snow that tore down power lines and trees. One of those trees crashed right into the Owen car as they drove along Highway 2.

The impact killed Tim and Cheryl in the front seat - right in front of their family in the backseat.

"It didn't seem real," says Kris.

She remembers a man who was more than just her Bothell soccer coach.

"He was basically like another father figure," she says. "He got a bunch of teenage girls to come together and really bond, especially during those teenage awkward years. That takes true talent and a really great ability to do that - that's who Tim was."

She says Tim was dedicated to much more than just his Lynnwood business. And Cheryl, a manager at Amazon, was a mom who gladly opened her home and her heart.

"They would do anything for anyone - always very caring, very generous, welcomed anyone in," says Kris.

That's how many will remember them - comforted by knowing that the Owens spent their final moments together.

"You could tell there was love there - the kind of love you would only find once in a lifetime," Kris says.

This is reportedly the second tree in the last two days to come crashing down on a car in the same area. A woman survived that first accident.