GRAND COUNTY, Utah — A 27-year-old Denver man filed a wrongful death claim against the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) on Oct. 22 after it says his wife was decapitated by a vehicle gate at Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah.
Ludovic Michaud says that his wife, 25-year-old Esther Nakajjigo, was decapitated when a metal gate swung into their 2020 Chevy Malibu as they were leaving the park on June 13, 2020, according to the claim.
The claim says the gate was left open and unrestrained, causing major damage to the hood and the front passenger fender, door and window.
The claim argues that an $8 padlock or proper maintenance would have prevented the death.
"The NPS have a duty to reasonably inspect, operate, and maintain these gates and guard against foreseeable dangers," the claims says.
The claim also argues that NPS regularly uses gates constructed "out of metal pipes with spear-like sharp ends," and that Arches National Park had "a set of these metal pipe gates with lance-like sharp ends at the entrance/exit of the park."
"Such metal pipe gates have been known to move when left unsecured, swing to the traveled part of the roadways, and penetrate into vehicles," the claim argues. "Despite this fact, the NPS has done nothing to ensure the safety of its visitors and guests."
Michaud is asking for more than $220 million in damages for wrongful death, and $20 million in damages for personal injury.
Nakijjijo, originally from Uganda, "was a world-renowned activist, movie and TV star as well as a youth influencer," the claim says.
At 17, She was named an Ambassador for Uganda's Women girls by nonprofit organization IREX.
In 2018, she participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program at Drexel University, and she was also the recipient of the 2018 Luff Peace Fellowship at Watson Institute.
"Our world lost an extraordinary warrior for good; a young woman influencer who was destined to become our society’s future Princess Diana, Philanthropist Melinda Gates, or Oprah Winfrey," the claim says.
Both of Nakijjijo's parents, who listed their addresses as Kamapala, Uganda, have also filed wrongful death claims. Both claims ask for $15 million in damages for wrongful death.
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