A family in Grand Haven, Michigan is suing a park grounds keeper for negligence at a sledding park where their 11-year-old son was killed in a tragic sledding accident in 2009. The accident occurred after the boy collided with a dead tree branch that had fallen at Duncan Park hill. The park was donated by Martha Duncan in 1913 to the people of Grand Haven. Duncan requested that dead fall not be removed except for instances of blocking the parking lot, because she wanted the park to remain in it’s natural state.
The grounds keeper, Robert DeHare, is a part time employee who has worked for the park for 9 years.
The family alleges that the grounds keeper failed to keep the sledding area in a “reasonably safe” condition by not removing dead trees and branches from the area used by the public for sledding purposes. The complaint also states that signs warnings were not given announcing the dangerous conditions of sledding on the hill where the boy was killed.
Other lawsuits regarding this incident have been dismissed, including a complaint filed including against the trustees of the Duncan Park Trust, in which the judge found that the trust did not exist and therefore could not be held responsible for negligence, and an initial lawsuit that was overturned in 2011 against the park’s commission. That case was dismissed as the park was a government entity and therefore immune from a lawsuit.