Family of woman decapitated by gate in Utah sues Park Service, claiming negligence

The family of a Ugandan human rights activist filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service this month after she was decapitated by a gate at the Arches National Park last year.

Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo, a 25-year old newlywed, was visiting the Utah park with her husband last year to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their first date.

The couple was driving to get ice cream when a gate blew closed from wind and sliced through their car, striking Nakajjigo in the head and neck.

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Nakajjigo’s family claimed in a lawsuit filed in Denver on June 8 that the gate had been left unlatched for two weeks prior the incident, according to The Associated Press, which is a violation of federal policy.

The suit does not specify how much money the family is seeking in damages, but it does accuse the park staff of negligence, Fox 13 reported.

Nakajjigo’s widower, Ludovic Michaud, also filed a wrongful death claim against the Park Service last year, seeking $240 million in damages. Additionally, Nakajjigo’s parents are seeking $30 million.

Michaud said Nakajjigo’s death was the “worst thing I hope I will ever see.”

A spokesperson for the NPS told The Hill it does not have additional information to share regarding the case, adding “With respect to the loss of Esther Nakajjigo. Our sympathies remain with her family, friends and those whose lives she impacted both nationally and internationally as a human rights activist.”

Nakajjigo was awarded a Woman Achiever Award at age 17 after she put her college tuition money toward starting a health care center that offered free reproductive health services for women.

She was also awarded a number of humanitarian awards and built a popular reality television series that worked to empower young mothers, according to the AP.

-- Updated 3:26 p.m.