Family sues city of Oakland in teen's tree death

- An East Bay family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Oakland on Monday after their teenage son was killed by a fallen tree limb one year ago.

The parents of Jack Lewis, Mike and Lisa Lewis, said their son’s death was preventable. Lewis was with friends on Dec. 4, 2015 climbing tree limbs on the shore of Lake Merritt near Children’s Fairyland. The limb Lewis was on broke. It fell on the 16-year-old and crushed him.

“This is a place Jack loved and he'd come here all the time,” Mike Lewis said.

Family attorney John Winer said the City of Oakland knew the popular climbing tree was diseased, but failed to remove it before Lewis’ death.

“This was a tragedy that could have been prevented,” Winer said. “The city of Oakland knew that this tree and this tree branch was dangerous.”

Winer said the tree had been marked for removal, topped, and pruned. He said the tree was only cut down after Lewis’ death.

“Anybody who has enough knowledge to prune a tree properly has enough knowledge to know they’re dealing with a dying or dead tree,” Winer said. 

The family said the tree should have been cut down before the accident. They hope to prevent another child or person from getting hurt.

“I think it should have been dealt with and then we wouldn’t be here right now,” Lisa Lewis said.

The heartache is especially difficult for the Lewis family during the holidays. They decorated a nearby tree with ornaments on the anniversary of Lewis’ death. The teenager was a junior at Oakland Tech High School and described as a musician, actor, athlete, and friend. 

An assistant to Oakland's city administrator said they could not comment on pending litigation when KTVU reached out for their response.  


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