Kansas Parks Department Reaches Settlement With Widow Of Man Killed At Antelope Lake
Almost five years after her husband drowned just yards away from her in a bizarre night time boating incident, a settlement has been reached with the widow. The $33,000 settlement was finally approved by members of the Kansas State Finance Council, comprised of Governor Sam Brownback and top Republican and Democratic leaders from the State House and Senate.
The case began in July 2011 when the victim and his wife were staying at Lake Antelope for the weekend. While the victim was on their boat, the craft ran aground on some obstacles under the water. The victim’s wife was ashore while a the time the boat became stuck at night.
According to reports, the victim, unable to free his craft, was content to stay aboard the boat until daylight to seek help. At some point during the night, a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism officer came upon the victim and ordered him to dislodge the boat and bring it ashore.
The victim complied with the officer’s orders and entered the water in an attempt to leverage the small boat from the rocks but was unable to do so. The victim, in the water without a lifejacket, was unable to reenter his boat and chose to swim to shore. Unfortunately, he became exhausted swimming back and went under.
As the victim struggled to tread water, the responding Parks Department officer refused to call for backup or throw safety device to the victim. Only after the victim was almost completely submerged did he himself enter the water to save his life.
Following the victim’s passing, his wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state, alleging that the officer acted negligently in the incident and subsequent rescue attempt. Not surprisingly, the state sought dismissal, blaming the victim for his own passing.
Only after a Kansas appeals court ruled the victim was not responsible for his own passing due to him being ordered to enter the water did the state seek a settlement. The court ruled the victim “had no valid option but to comply with McGinnis’ command to come ashore.”
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If your family suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, contact our office to speak to an Olathe wrongful death lawyer. The Morrison Law Firm, LLC serves clients in Olathe, Overland Park, and throughout Johnson County. Call us today (913) 780-6666.