OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The family of an East Bay teenager is filing a wrongful death suit against the city of Oakland a year after he killed by a falling tree limb near Lake Merritt.
They chose to hold the press conference near the site of the tragic accident on the east side of Lake Merritt where 16-year-old Jack Lewis died.
His parents — Michael and Lisa Lewis — say their son was killed by a diseased and decaying tree limb that fell on Jack’s head, crushing his skull.
The teen was here for a friend’s birthday party and some of his friends were sitting on the branch of a tree near the Children’s Fairyland billboard.
Jack started climbing to join them when the branch that was approximately 20 feet long and 12 inches in diameter, snapped off the tree and landed on his head.
They claim the city of Oakland knew about the tree’s condition because it had been inspected and marked for removal.
“We just think about him every day and hope his last thoughts and dreams were as wonderful as his life,” said Michael Lewis.
Prior to Jack’s death, his parents say a part of the top of the tree had already died.
That would suggest the rest of the tree was dangerous and, per the city of Oakland’s policy, should have been removed within 24 hours.
Expert arborist Denise Britton said it’s difficult for urban foresters to manage trees effectively because there are so many to maintain, especially when working with an inadequate budget.
KPIX 5 spoke with the Oakland City Attorney’s office and they said they couldn’t offer a comment on pending litigation.