Utah: State not responsible for deadly bear attack
PROVO, Utah ” Utah officials say the state is not liable in a bear attack that killed an 11-year-old Utah County boy.
In a formal response to a lawsuit, state lawyers said the Utah Governmental Immunity Act protects the state.
“It’s a tragedy, but that doesn’t mean the state is responsible,” Assistant Attorney General Reed Stringham told the Deseret News.
Sam Ives was camping in American Fork Canyon last June when a bear ripped through his family’s tent and carried him away.
His family claims state and federal agencies failed to warn campers that bears had been harassing campers a day earlier.
In 4th District Court, state attorneys contend the U.S. Forest Service is responsible ” along with Ives and a 7-year-old stepbrother, who are accused of bringing food, soda and other “bear attractants” to the campsite.
The family’s attorney, Allen K. Young, called the state’s response outrageous.
“First of all, it’s my belief that probably 90 percent of people probably wouldn’t realize that you ought to put your coolers away if you’re camping in a national forest,” he said.
“These people had put away their coolers. The state throws everything at the wall and hopes something will stick,” Young said.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is responsible for wildlife on federal land. The U.S. Forest Service controls campgrounds.
The lawsuit against the Forest Service seeks $2 million. Utah law would cap damages in the lawsuit against the state at $550,000.
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com
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