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Student Drowned at Work when Cable Car Plunged into Colorado River

Our Chicago wrongful death attorneys were saddened to hear of the death of a 21 year-old University student, earlier this year. According to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent newspaper, the student drowned in the Colorado River in June 2010, while working to help build the Glenwood Canyon Resort zip line.

The student had only been working for five weeks when the accident happened. The young man and two co-workers were on the job and transporting equipment across the river in a cable car when the car they were in sagged too low and dropped into the rushing current of the river. The student was flung into the river and drowned. He had not been wearing a life jacket at the time.

At the time of the incident, the three men were traveling in the cable car to reach property across the river, with the intent of constructing three, 350-foot zip lines across the Colorado River to be used by the resort. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports that the young man and his fellow workers were transporting a generator, shovels and other equipment across the river when the accident happened. The cable car couldn’t sustain the combined weight of the three men and the equipment.

Although the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue spent two days searching the river for any sign of Chisholm, the search had to be suspended as a result of dangerous river conditions. The man’s fellow employees from the resort continued searching the river, but the man’s body was found 16 days later, several miles downstream.

The mother of the student has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her son, alleging that the “Defendants knew or should have known the danger posed by use of the cable car at a time when the flow of the Colorado River was at such high volume.”

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Rock Gardens Rafting, Glenwood Canyon Zip Line Adventures; the owner of the cable car; and the young man’s work supervisor that day. If successful in her claim, the victim’s mother may be awarded damages for loss of love companionship from her son, as well as punitive damages to send a message to the defendants, urging them to be more careful in the future.

As a general rule, companies have a duty to supervise their employees as well as the working conditions to ensure that their workers are performing tasks in a safe environment. When they fail to ensure safe working conditions, employers may be liable for any injury that occurs on the premises. In this case, the cable basket had been used to haul equipment and workers across the river for nearly thirty years before it failed.

This is a devastating situation for all people involved. Our Illinois personal injury lawyers know how tragic and difficult Illinois wrongful death lawsuits can be, and have the requisite knowledge and diligence to fight for the rights of the families of victims.

If you or a loved one has been injured at work or on a construction site, it is important that you understand your rights to any benefits and compensation owed to you under the law.