The family of a child who died at a national park in California will receive a $3.5 million settlement from the federal government. The 9-year-old boy reportedly died after falling from a retaining wall upon which he was sitting. Relatives accused the Lassen Volcanic National Park of maintaining dangerous premises, as the child died when the retaining wall failed, rolled over him and crushed him as his horrified family watched.
Official reports show that the boy and his sister were sitting on the wall next to a hiking trail when it collapsed. Their father was able to grab the girl, but the boy plunged about 30 feet from the trail. The family's older daughter suffered serious injuries when the wall collapsed. The younger daughter suffered emotional distress. Both girls will receive an annuity of $650,000 in connection with the incident.
A judge in the case said that the National Park Service engaged in shameful behavior because of the accident. Findings showed that maintenance supervisors at the park knew that the retaining wall was damaged, but it was never repaired. Staff members then attempted to cover up the accident by lying under oath and even reportedly destroying evidence.
Attorneys say the family was dismayed that the Park Service refused to accept responsibility for the accident, both at the time of the event and during subsequent legal proceedings. Victims who have suffered the loss of a loved one because of a negligent property owner should not also have to fight prolonged legal battles because of defendant dishonesty. Families who are suffering because of the actions of a negligent property owner -- even if that owner is the federal government -- may benefit from consulting a California personal injury attorney.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Feds settle with family whose son died in park" Denny Walsh, Feb. 19, 2014