Oct 20 2019
A family in Idaho has sued the U.S. Forest Service. They are allegedly asking for $1 million for injuries their young son endured after a large dead tree at a remote campsite fell on top of him.
Richard and Melinda Armstrong, of Caldwell, told reporters that their family was camping in the Boise National Forest in September 2010 when the weather conditions caused a dead tree to tip over and fall on their son.
Their son was six-years-old at the time of the accident. He had to be airlifted out from the remote camp site to a hospital. He was treated at a hospital in Boise for a large laceration, a compound fracture and a puncture wound in his back that impaired his breathing.
According to the couple, they feel that the Forest Service was negligent in the incident. They did not take the appropriate action to remove the large tree, which was a safety hazard near a campsite. Reports say that the couple will now be suing for more than $1 million in damages and emotional stress in federal court.
"The tree was clearly dead - had been dead for years - and was within eight feet of the fire ring, and within 48 feet of the Forest Service road," their personal injury attorneys told the press on Wednesday. "It was an obvious hazard."
Armstrong's son has undergone multiple surgeries and suffered "severe permanent impairment" of his leg.
Currently they are trying to decide if the federal agency had a responsibility to make sure that it was a site where people frequented and that it was near a public road that was adequately protected from a potentially dangerous tree, including dead ones.
Various reports state that the Armstrong family was on a camping trip that took them about 50 miles north of Boise, to a remote Forest Service road east of the hamlet of Ola in Gem County. They are currently trying to determine if the place along Squaw Creek where they were overnighting was, in fact, a developed campsite, per the Forest Service's definition.
This is not the only accident of its kind. In Oregon, a man sued the Forest Service in 2010 after he was struck and injured by a tree while driving in his truck. That case was settled earlier this year - it was dismissed.
If you are camping, especially with a younger or less experienced person, make sure that you and all others in your party are well aware of your surroundings. This includes making sure that trees around you are not at risk of toppling over with a gust of wind.