National Park Named in Wrongful Death Suit After Mountain Goat Killed Hiker

While we typically focus our posts on lessons learned from tragic incidents throughout the state of Texas, we could not help but take note when we saw the following story about Washington state in the news earlier this month as it is not often that animals are involved in wrongful death lawsuits.

Last fall, a 63-year-old hiker was making his way through Olympic National Park with his wife and friend when he was attacked by a 370-pound mountain goat. According to park officials, the goat gored the 63 year old in the thigh, striking an artery, and then stood over him to prevent others from coming to his rescue. Rescuers were unable to aid the hiker for over an hour. Eventually, he was airlifted to a hospital where he was pronounced dead from his injury.

Park officials noted that this goat was a particularly aggressive goat, but acknowledged that several goats in that area of the park have grown more aggressive for the past few years.

The deceased hiker’s wife believes that the park was responsible, in part, for her husband’s death. Park rangers knew that the goats had grown more aggressive and advised hikers that they could “ward off an aggressive mountain goad by throwing rocks at it.” The hiker’s wife said, “I feel like they weren’t protecting people and the ecosystem, and I feel that on the day of the accident, they responded very poorly to our calls for help.”

The wife and other survivors of the 63 year old’s estate have brought a $10 million wrongful death claim in federal court against the national park.

Source: ABA, “$10M Federal Wrongful Death Claim Over Hiker Gored by Mountain Goat in National Park,” 8/8/11.