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Family calling for action after Utah girl killed by falling tree branch in Oregon

Posted at 9:15 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 23:24:22-04

“We should not have had to leave that lake the way we did,” said Montana McCarty, reflecting on a recent trip to Oregon with his family. “This isn’t fair, it’s not right and it needs to be known.”

Along with family and friends from Logan to West Jordan, McCarty is grieving the loss of his 13-year-old daughter Bailey Monson. She died after being struck by a fallen tree branch while sitting in a pontoon boat along the shoreline of Detroit Lake (Oregon) on May 24, 2020.

“This was a 10 to 14 inch in diameter branch on a 100-plus foot tree that just fell,” said Kirk Bentgzen, Bailey’s great uncle who came to his ailing family’s side after learning of the tragic accident. “From the start to that point was just the trip of our lives so it was just amazing family, scenery, just the best you could ask for,” said McCarty, reflecting on the family outing.

Services were held in Logan and West Jordan after the family returned home from Oregon late last month.

Now that the family has returned home, McCarty wants to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“It was actually the top part of a dead tree, fell from 149 feet in the air,” said McCarty about the branch that snapped, fell and ultimately took the life of his daughter.

He, his wife and youngest daughter were out kayaking at the time of the accident. Just an hour before, it was just he and his wife who were sitting in the pontoon boats on the beach while the three children paddled throughout the cove.

“I don’t know if it’s neglect, I don’t know whatever the case might be, but we lost a daughter because of it and it’s not fair to us, not fair to her, it should never happen to anybody else,” said McCarty. He wants to know if trees and land are being maintained in areas where others are recreating at the lake.

When FOX 13 reached out to Oregon State Parks, regarding the day-use fee that McCarty paid for his family and what that covers, they replied: “The money collected from one park goes into a general pot to fund all state parks.”

The area where the incident took place, known as Box Canyon, is part of the U.S. Forest Service Willamette National Forest. McCarty and Bentzgen noted numerous postings on social media after the accident which echoed similar experiences involving fallen dead trees and branches.

FOX 13 reached out to the Willamette National Forest numerous times via email and by phone in regards to maintenance of the area and only received this response: “I have received your note and will respond after follow up with our leadership team.”

If you’d like to contribute to assist the family with funeral expenses and travel cost, a GoFundMe page can be accessed by clicking here.