Parks Sued Humanitarian Killed

In this Dec. 10, 2011, file photo, a lunar eclipse is framed within Turret Arch at Arches National Park near Moab.

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The family of a women’s rights activist from Uganda sued the National Park Service this month after she was decapitated last year by a gate at Utah’s Arches National Park.

The gate had been left unlatched against federal policy for two weeks before it struck Esther Nakajjigo in June 2020, according to the lawsuit filed in Denver.

She and her husband were newlyweds traveling in the well-known park when the wind caught the gate as they drove out, Fox13-KSTU in Salt Lake City reported.

The lawsuit does not specify the amount of damages being sought, but Nakajjigo’s family has previously filed a $270 million notice of claim. Notices of claim must be filed ahead of lawsuits against government agencies and the lawsuit was filed June 8 in federal court.

The gate sliced through the side of their rented car, striking Nakajjigo in the head and neck and killing her, the lawsuit said.

Her husband Ludo Michaud witnessed his wife’s death, something he has called the “worst thing I hope I will ever see.”

Nakajjigo, 25, was born in Kampala, Uganda, and used her university tuition money to start a nonprofit community health care center for girls and young women when she was a teenager.

She earned numerous humanitarian awards and created a popular reality television series aimed at empowering young mothers. She was attending a social-entrepreneurship program in Colorado at the time of her death.

A National Park Service spokesperson declined comment Monday on the lawsuit, Fox13-KSTU reported. The park service previously issued a statement expressing sympathy to her family.

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