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Wrongful Death Suit in Boy's 2012 Drowning Settled for $300K

We’re getting into fishing season finally. There are a lot of people looking to drop a line and reel in a few. For many, the allure of water — any water — is huge.

As most readers of this blog may appreciate, fishing is often a solitary pastime and some anglers are youngsters who may not have the experience to know when they are wading into treacherous conditions. The result may be an untimely death. And in the case of one young boy, it proved to be a wrongful death.

This sad story didn’t happen in Missouri, but it could well have, so we feel it deserves mention here.

The victim was an 11-year-old boy who decided to go fishing alone at a flood-control reservoir known as Lake Wanahoo in Nebraska. That was in June 2012. The lake, which had been built by the local Natural Resources District, had just opened that year.

While at the site, the boy somehow got sucked into a concrete pipe and drowned in the dam spillway. The child’s death prompted his family to file a $1 million suit alleging that the district had failed to take adequate measures to protect the public, and specifically children, from entering the spillway. Their suit called the spillway an “attractive nuisance.” The action also named the engineering company that designed the spillway.

At the time the suit was filed, NRD officials acknowledged that there were no warning signs posted at the location. They said the feeling was that none were needed. They have since been put up.

This suit has now been resolved. According to media reports, the family and the defendants reached a settlement and a judge recently signed off on the terms. While the NDR and the engineering firm denied all allegations, the district agreed to pay the family $200,000 and the engineering firm will pay $100,000.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, “Lake Wanahoo drowning lawsuit settled for $300,000,” Algis J. Laukaitis, May 6, 2014