Parents sue landowner of tree that killed son

11-year-old Thomas Graham was killed in 2014

A tree fell on this car along SW Terwilliger near Iron Mountain Boulevard, killing 11-year-old Thomas William Graham and injuring his 50-year-old mother, Susan Graham, Dec. 11, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
A tree fell on this car along SW Terwilliger near Iron Mountain Boulevard, killing 11-year-old Thomas William Graham and injuring his 50-year-old mother, Susan Graham, Dec. 11, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The parents of a boy who died after a falling tree struck the car his mother was driving seek $2.5 million in a lawsuit against the owners of the Portland property from which the tree fell.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Multnomah County asserts the property owners should have known the cedar tree was dead and posed a risk of toppling onto Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard during a windy night on December 11, 2014.

Thomas William Graham in a recent photo provided by the Lake Oswego School District, Dec. 12, 2014
Thomas William Graham in a recent photo provided by the Lake Oswego School District, Dec. 12, 2014

Thomas Graham and his mother, Susan Graham, were on their way home to Lake Oswego when the tree fell onto the car. The car drove about another 50 feet and hit another tree.

Thomas, an 11-year-old 6th-grader at Lake Oswego Junior High, died before emergency responders could get him out of the car. Susan was rushed to OHSU for treatment of her injuries.

KOIN 6 News tried but was unable to get a comment from the 2 property owners involved, and the attorney for the Graham family has not yet returned a call seeking comment.

An insurance agent not connected with this particular case told KOIN 6 News when trees cause harm in a weather event, liability is a gray area. Since no one controls the weather, it is often not an issue of liability for the tree owner.

KOIN 6 News reporter Lisa Balick contributed to this report.

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