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Cliff Jumping Accident in USA
The family of John Hodgess, a 23 year-old Leicestershire graduate who died following an ill-fated cliff jump whilst on a trekking holiday in the USA, have recovered undisclosed compensation in respect of their son’s death following legal proceedings in California.
John was just five weeks into a round the world trip when tragedy struck on 11 September 2004.
The trip was organised through Trek America. A US company, Premiere International, Inc, provided services for the trip, including the provision of trek leaders in the United States. Whilst at Antelope Point at Lake Powell in Utah, John was encouraged by the trek leader, Eddie Ormond, to jump from a cliff approximately 70 feet high into the lake below. Following instructions from Ormond about the technique he should use, John jumped from the cliff into the water but failed to re-surface. His body was recovered from the lake two days later. At the Inquest the Coroner for Rutland and North Leicester recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. The inquest found that John had died as a result of drowning due to blunt force head trauma.
Holiday Accident in the USA
Cliff jumping at heights above 15ft has since been banned by the National Park in which the accident occurred. Trek America has now put a blanket ban in place in relation to cliff jumping. However, it was a matter of dispute between John Hodgess’ family and the company during the proceedings as to whether any sufficient warnings, or any warnings at all, were given to John as to the dangers of cliff jumping. John’s family alleged that John was actively encouraged by the tour guide leading the trip to jump.
John’s family were adamant that had he been properly informed of the risks associated with jumping from the cliff, he would not have jumped. They felt very strongly that his death could have been prevented had the trek leader, and the companies that employed him, given clear and adequate warnings about the activity, and if appropriate safety precautions been taken.
Proceedings in relation to John’s death were commenced in California against both Trek America and Premiere International, Inc and the case settled for a substantial amount of compensation following a mediation.
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"We were very happy with the outcome of our case, especially as we were initially offered nothing from the Tour Operator. Irwin Mitchell were very professional throughout and we are very happy with the outcome."
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