A metal gate in Arches National Park has killed a woman. It is now the center of a wrongful death process.

Esther Nakajjigo was killed in Arches National Park in 2020.

(Athea Trial Lawyers) Esther Nakajjigo is seen in this undated photo. The 25-year-old human rights activist and newly married wife was killed in Arches National Park on June 13, 2020.

Esther Nakajjigo was a Ugandan human rights activist and newly married wife when the 25-year-old was killed and beheaded by an unsecured gate in Arches National Park in 2020 and is now at the center of an unlawful death trial.

The federal trial began Monday in Utah, where Nakajjigo’s husband and family are seeking $140 million in damages from the US government, arguing in a complaint that the national park acted negligently and failed to properly maintain the gate.

The lawsuit was filed about a year after Nakajjigo’s death in June 2020, when winds apparently caused the unsecured metal gate on the park’s main road to topple over, hitting her and her husband’s car, decapitating her.

Who was Esther Nakajjigo?

Born into poverty in Kampala, Uganda, Esther Nakajjigo rose to become a celebrated human rights activist through her work to prevent teenage pregnancy.

When she was 17, she donated her tuition to start a private, not-for-profit community health center, which she named the Princess Diana Health Center. She has been appointed Ambassador of Uganda for Women and Girls.

She met Ludovic Michaud in Boulder, Colorado when she went there for a leadership accelerator program in 2019, and the two married in March 2020.

When she died at the age of 25, “she had accomplished more than most people in their entire lives and had a lot more to do with her life,” the court documents said.

Her mother flew to Utah from Uganda this week to attend the trial.

What happened?

Newlyweds Michaud and Nakajjigo took a weekend trip to Arches National Park as a “welcome break” after months of lockdown amid the pandemic, court documents say.

On June 13, 2020, Nakajjigo, who was riding in the passenger seat as her husband drove her out of the park, was suddenly decapitated as the triangular metal gate swung around and cut into her rental car.

Nakajjigo was killed instantly. Drenched in his wife’s blood after the impact, Michaud instinctively jumped out of the slow-moving car and then got back in to park it.

The process

Nakajigo’s family and Michaud are suing the US government for negligence and for negligently inflicting emotional distress on Michaud, who witnessed the grisly scene.

According to a court filing, the National Park Service and Arches National Park created a “deadly and undetectable hazard” with the gate that “converted a metal pipe into a spear that went right through the side of a car, decapitating and killing Esther Nakajjigo.” “

The US government has admitted responsibility for Nakajjigo’s death and her husband’s emotional distress, an attorney for the plaintiffs said.

The ongoing process will primarily focus on determining the damage that may be due to her family and Michaud.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/12/07/metal-gate-arches-national-park/ A metal gate in Arches National Park has killed a woman. It is now the center of a wrongful death process.

Justin Scacco

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