Family of woman killed at Arches National Park awarded $10.5 million

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Esther Nakajjigo, a 25-year-old Ugandan human rights activist, was killed in a horrific accident at Arches National Park on June 13, 2020. On Monday, a federal judge in Utah ruled that the US government must pay his family more than 10 dollars. millions in damages

The amount was well below the $140 million originally requested by Nakajjigo’s family. But an attorney for her parents and husband said they were grateful for the judgment, which represents the largest federal wrongful death verdict in Utah history. the Associated Press reported.

Nakajjigo married Denver man Ludovic Michaud in March 2020. As eastern Utah recreation areas reopened that summer, Michaud was excited to take his new bride to Arches National Park, and the two drove there in June. The couple were leaving a park parking lot to get some ice cream when a metal traffic control barrier opened in the road, piercing the passenger side of the couple’s rental car and severing the head of Nakajjigo.

In their legal complaint, Michaud and Nakajjigo’s parents said the National Park Service was negligent for failing to maintain the gate. They argued that if employees had properly installed the door and secured it with an $8 padlock, Nakajjigo’s death could have been avoided, BNC News reported.

In his 10-page verdict, US District Court Judge Bruce Jenkins said the government had admitted wrongdoing and apologized for Nakajjigo’s death.

“This decision is a reminder of the importance of proper maintenance and security measures in our national parks, in order to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future,” Michaud said in a statement to CBS News Monday. “The trial gave me and Essie’s family members the opportunity to tell Essie’s great story, and it was so important to me to have the chance to stand up and speak out. in the name of this amazing woman.”

During opening statements at the trial in December, Nakajjigo was described as a “pearl beyond price” with “unlimited” potential. them Salt Lake Grandstand reported. At 17, she used her tuition money to start a nonprofit community health center, which provided free reproductive health services to young women and girls. For this work, the United Nations Population Fund awarded her the Woman Achiever Award.

Nakajjigo also created a reality TV show in Uganda aimed at helping teenage mothers stay in school and learn life skills.

She met Michaud on Tinder in 2019 while attending a leadership program in Boulder, Colorado. In court, Michaud described her relationship with Nakajjigo as “the best time of her life.”

“You feel alone, and it’s hard. A lot of things remind me of her,” Michaud told the Salt Lake Grandstand. “There are a lot of little things that I miss.”

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