The family of a Benton City woman killed by a falling tree limb in a Kennewick park is seeking $2 million from the city of Kennewick.
The family of Stephanie Murray Judd filed a tort claim with the city on Oct. 30. The claim serves as notice that the family could sue after 30 days.
Judd, 37, died Sept. 22 in Columbia Park while attending the Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Fair with her husband and son.
Steady winds, with gusts of up to 25 mph, are thought to have knocked a large limb from a sycamore tree. It struck Judd, who was sitting on a bench near an outdoor stage with her school aged son.
Her son was not physically injured.
“It’s a tragic case,” said attorney Ned Stratton, with Anderson Law, a Kennewick firm representing the Judds.
Stratton said Judd was the primary breadwinner for the household. She was the office manager for Washington Vision Therapy Center’s Tri-City office.
The firm believes there is potential liability for the incident, but Stratton said its investigation is ongoing. The city immediately removed the tree, hindering the law firm’s investigation.
The city operates the 363-acre park, but the land itself is federally owned, under the control of the Army Corps of Engineers.
It hosts more than 100 community events each year, peaking in mid-summer when the Tri-Cities Water Follies and Columbia Cup hydroplane races pull into town.
The sycamore that failed did not register as a hazard during a review prior to Water Follies.
But the aging sycamores came under increased scrutiny. The tree that dropped the branch was immediately removed and additional trees were pruned and later removed.
The city’s insurance pool is handling the claim, according to Kennewick officials.
A GoFundMe account has raised nearly $7,700 to assist the Judd family.