Man dies when tree falls on car at Rainier

The Associated Press

ASHFORD — A man died and his wife was badly hurt when a tree fell on their car while they were celebrating their first wedding anniversary at Mount Rainier National Park.

A large hemlock snapped loose in a gust of wind and fell 75 feet, park officials say. Jason Cosner, 26, died in the Saturday accident, and his wife, Kellie Cosner, also 26, was critically injured.

Kellie Cosner remained in critical condition Tuesday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with head, chest and abdominal injuries. She had undergone surgery for internal injuries.

The couple moved to Bellevue a few years ago from Florida to enjoy the region’s natural beauty, friends said.

"We are all just completely devastated," Sherri Cuffe, a family friend in their hometown of Brooksville, Fla., told The Seattle Times. "We couldn’t believe anything like this could happen.

"It was just such a freaky accident. If they had been five seconds faster or five seconds slower, it wouldn’t have happened. It would have missed."

The Cosners had stayed Friday night at Jasper’s, a small bed-and-breakfast lodge in Ashford, just outside the park’s west entrance. Sunday would have been their first anniversary.

They were driving east on Highway 706 when a 30-foot section of tree trunk, about 20 inches in diameter at its thickest point, broke off about 75 feet up, park spokesman Dave Uberuaga said.

"They were doing what several hundred other people that day were doing, just out touring," Uberuaga said. "Our guess is that a gust of wind just came in and hit just right. It’s really sad."

A nurse and a paramedic happened to be among the first motorists to arrive at the scene of the crushed sport-utility vehicle. They administered first aid to Kellie Cosner until the Eatonville Fire Department arrived. She was pulled from the wreckage and airlifted to Harborview.

Jason Cosner was pronounced dead by firefighters as they drove him to Ashford to meet another airlift helicopter.

Kellie Cosner is a public relations assistant for software maker Sierra Entertainment in Bellevue. She met her husband in high school in Florida and they fell in love while attending Florida State University.

"His love for her was unbelievable, as hers was for him," said Jessica Cosner-Lowe, Jason’s sister.

Jason Cosner moved to the Seattle area in 1998 to pursue his passion of competitive mountain biking after his graduation from Florida State. He worked for Derby Cycle in Kent, which makes Raleigh and Diamondback bikes.

Kellie Cisner moved to Washington in 1999 to join him.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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