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Family Seeks $12 Million in Wrongful Death of Son Killed by Decayed Tree

On December 29, 2009, a 9-year-old Maryland boy was participating in a two-night stay-away camp with 61 other youths at the Hashawha Environmental Camp. Despite a high wind advisory by the National Weather Service, camp counselors took the youths outside for a walk as part of a survival training activity. Shortly thereafter, the boy and another camper were struck by a 100-foot hickory tree. According to investigations, a gust of wind blew over the tree which had been dead for some time. The 9-year-old died two days later from severe head trauma.

The family of the deceased child has filed a $12 million wrongful death lawsuit against Carroll County claiming it was negligent in protecting the child. The suit includes more than $60,000 in medical bills and $2 million for pain and suffering the child endured for two days prior to his death.

In the lawsuit, the family contends that the tree should have been cut down despite the fact that it was not a safety hazard to the camp’s buildings and hat the children should never have been taken outside. A report issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Jan. 25, 2010, revealed that “the significant decay at the base of the tree in combination with the windy conditions that day caused the tree to fall”; evidence that the tree had been dead for a long time and should have been cut down.

Instead of an apology, the family received a form letter refunding their money and inviting them to attend another festival at the camp. If this little boy wasn’t your only child, would you send another one of your children to Hashawha Environmental Camp?

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