Unfortunately, the family of a hero who drowned while saving a young boy who fell into the Fox River was no match for some Illinois entities. The suit alleged that the defendants, which include the city of Geneva, Illinois, its park district and Kane County, were aware that people had received injuries due to currents produced by the Geneva Dam.
The case presented by the family’s legal team included allegations that the land’s configuration brought people too close to the dangerous waters of the Fox River and that signs posted by the defendants did not provide adequate warning. The Kane County Circuit Court found that the defendants had no control over the river and the dam, which the Illinois Department of Natural Resources owns.
One of the Justices wrote that the river and the dam were open and obvious dangers and pose no additional risks beyond those which are naturally present in dams and bodies of water. The man’s family reportedly alleged that the river contained non-natural, manmade currents that were not obvious, but according to the ruling, they did not make this argument in their complaint. Instead, they only raised the issue of manmade currents on appeal. The ruling also states that the man’s family could not prove that the defendants in the case had a duty or obligation to protect or warn about the risk of drowning.
Although this family could not prove its wrongful death claims, the suit illustrates why it is always important to pursue legal action for a wrongful death under the guidance of a good attorney. Despite losing, this family has helped shine a spotlight on the possible dangers of recreational activities near the banks of Illinois’ Fox River. Now families can be more prepared when they visit Geneva’s park district and can practice family safety, all inspired by a genuine Illinois hero.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Family Loses Suit Over Hero's River Drowning” Jeff D. Gorman, Apr. 14, 2014
Family loses wrongful death suit over a drowned Illinois hero