The U.S. government awarded the family of a woman decapitated at Arches National Park in Utah more than $10 million in a lawsuit, CBS News reported Monday.
Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo was decapitated by a gate at Arches National Park in June 2020 while on vacation with her husband Ludovic Michaud, according to CBS News. Later that year, Nakajjigo’s family filed a multi-million lawsuit against the government, alleging the U.S. National Park Service had failed to maintain the metal gates for decades.
Esther Nakajjigo was passionate about reducing teenage pregnancy, and she created two reality television shows that sought to empower women.
— The Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) January 31, 2023
U.S. District Judge for the District of Utah Bruce Jenkins awarded Michaud $9.5 million dollars, with Nakajjigo’s parents receiving just over $1 million, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. (RELATED: Hiker Found Dead In Zion National Park After Husband Went To Look For Help)
“The National Park Service has, in fact, known for decades that an unsecured metal pipe gate creates an undetectable hazard and dangerous condition,” the family’s claim stated, CBS News reported in a separate article. The lawsuit also alleged “a simple $8 padlock” could have prevented the gate from swinging, and that three other people have died from similar incidents since 1988, according to the outlet.
The U.S. government reportedly apologized and admitted wrongdoing in the lawsuit.
“On behalf of the family, we are very appreciative of the judge’s attention to detail, the time he spent working on this, and for the value he put on the loss to this family of Essie,” head attorney Zoe Littlepage said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Nakajjigo was an activist from Uganda who moved to Colorado to attend the Watson Institute in Boulder, according to CBS News. She also hosted a reality TV show that shared stories about what it “means to be a woman in the world’s largest refugee settlement.” Nakajjigo was recognized by the United Nations at 17 years old for her work helping women, the outlet reported, citing court documents.