Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed

Two wrongful death lawsuits have been filed in Taney County this August stemming from two separate incidents of kayakers drowning in Bull Creek at the same location.

The location in question was a manmade crossing that stretched across the creek. The US Army Corps of Engineers issued a Nationwide Permit to Stephen Johnson to contract the building of a crossing, that connected his land on either side.

Three Drownings in Bull Creek

The first incident occurred in May 2019, where Susan Pickett and her friend drowned while kayaking down the creek.

This past June, Kirk Farrell was kayaking with his wife, Rita, when they came up on the crossing. Kirk described the crossing as a line in the water, with no indication of a drop off. He was able to make it over, but Rita was caught in the current, which pulled her back, ejected her from the kayak, and held her under the water.

Plans for Demolition

The Springfield News-Leader and the chairman of the Schoolcraft Chapter of the Ozark Society brought the crossing to the attention of the Army Corps. They inspected the crossing and found it was built too high and too wide. It did not properly allow aquatic wildlife to pass through, and they sent Johnson a notice of noncompliance. This was the first inspection in the three years the crossing was established. The Corps are not required to have a follow-up inspection on Nationwide Permits.

Johnson plans on demolishing the existing crossing, and building a new crossing that will be submitted for evaluation by the Army Corps. The evaluation will determine if the crossing is acceptable for fish and other aquatic wildlife to pass through. As of right now, the Nationwide Permit does not require the consideration of public safety in the structure.

This lack of concern for public safety is what these lawsuits allege resulted in the deaths of these paddlers. Our hearts go out to the families affected.

Devastating Losses from Recreational Accidents

Accidents in sports and other recreational activities often happen unexpectedly, turning an enjoyable time into a devastating tragedy. Recreational accidents always carry some degree of risk, but it is the duty of manufactures, organizers, and property owners to minimize and eliminate unreasonable risks. Talk to our attorneys today if you have questions about a recreational accident.