Esther Nakajjigo: Family of Ugandan philanthropist beheaded by traffic barrier in Arches National Park awarded $10.5m
The family of Ugandan philanthropist Esther Nakajjigo, who was beheaded by a traffic barrier in front of her husband in Arches National Park in Utah, has been awarded $10.5 million.
The ruling was issued by a U.S. district court on Friday, according to KUTV.
Relatives of a Ms Nakajjigo initially sought $140 million in damages from the US government. The $10.5 million decision came after a wrongful death lawsuit in Salt Lake City for the philanthropist who was tragically killed while on a camping trip with her husband Ludovic Michaud on June 13, 2020, the AFP reported. Associated Press.
Lawyers for Ms Nakajjigo’s family argued that the US National Park Service had been negligent in failing to secure a metal traffic control barrier that rotated in strong winds and cut through the passenger door of the car, killing her instantly.
Ms Nakajjigo was described as an “extraordinary warrior for good” who was destined to become a future Princess Diana or Oprah Winfrey in pre-trial court documents.
‘She was one in a billion,’ family attorney Randi McGinn told the court during opening arguments, according to Fox 13.
US attorneys do not dispute that park officials were to blame. But they argued that the damages initially sought based on Ms Nakajjigo’s future earning potential were too high and that a figure of $3.5million would be appropriate.
Ms McGinn asked those close to her to leave the courtroom before detailing how Mr Michaud realized his wife was dead ‘when he inhaled the coppery smell of blood’, and went returned to find she was dead, the AP reported.
The attorney said Nakajjigo was on his way to becoming a nonprofit CEO capable of earning an annual salary of more than $1 million.
At the age of 17, Nakajjigo received a United Nations Woman Achiever Award for raising funds for a children’s hospital and created a popular reality TV series aimed at empowering young mothers.
She was known in Uganda as the “Princess of Hearts” for her internationally renowned humanitarian works and was awarded a full Emerging Leaders Scholarship to study at the Watson Institute in Boulder, Colorado in 2019.
For the government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nelson admitted Nakajjigo was an “extraordinary person” but said it was impossible to determine what his future earnings would have been, according to The Associated Press.
The claim filed on October 22 argued that his death could have been avoided if the door had been installed correctly or if it had been locked in place to prevent it from moving in the wind.
The lawsuit argued that the unsecured door “actually turned a metal pipe into a spear that went through the side of a car, decapitating and killing Esther Nakajjigo.”
Court documents revealed that Mr Michaud was not injured but suffered severe mental distress after the incident, during which he sat in the driver’s seat right next to his wife.
Judge Bruce Jenkins said: ‘What was left of her in the front seat and on the floor of the car was horrifying and extremely shocking,’ according to KUTV.
The Independent Gt