The life of Christopher Kelly, a 14-year-old freshman at Central Catholic High School, was cut short Nov. 6 when a tree branch fell on the teenager. The young man was part of a Friends of Trees volunteer group at the Thousand Acres Dog Park at the Sandy River Delta where he was helping to plant trees when the accident occurred.

“Our thoughts are with this young man’s family during this tragic time,” said Multnomah County Undersheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell in a statement to the press. “This weighs heavy on all of us in the first responder community.”

“As you may have read there was a tragic accident at one of our planting events last Saturday,” wrote Friends of Trees on the organization’s Twitter account Nov. 8. “We are devastated and our hearts go out to the family.”

Multnomah County deputies and medical responders were called to the area the morning of Nov. 6 after a report was given of a young person struck by a fallen tree limb. High winds were hitting the region that day.

“Despite lifesaving efforts, the teenager did not survive,” read the county statement.

When he died, Christopher was happily performing service required of Central Catholic students. The high school is not issuing a statement at this time in order to honor the family, a school spokesperson said.

Christopher is from a North Portland family that has a long history at Holy Cross Parish and its school.

“We are devastated,” said Julie Johnson, principal of Holy Cross. “We had known Chris for nine years. Chris always had a smile. He was an incredibly kind student who felt things deeply.”

Last spring, Christopher was noted as the last of his generation from the Kelly clan to graduate from the school. Staff made a presentation and gave flowers to his grandmother Christina, who saw her children and grandchildren attend and remained an avid supporter of Holy Cross.

On Nov. 8, Father Mark Bachmeier, pastor, led a prayer service for staff. Students, many of whom remember Christopher, spent the morning making cards and writing letters to the Kelly family.

A GoFundMe account was set up for the family to help pay for funeral and memorial expenses.

Christopher “will be missed by family, friends, and classmates,” said his aunt Melanie Kelly, who organized the fundraiser on the GoFundMe page. She added that Christopher could also be honored by telling a loved one a corny dad joke in his memory.

Donate to the GoFundMe fundraiser at

— Sarah Wolf, Ed Langlois