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FAMILY’S WRONGFUL-DEATH LAWSUIT AGAINST IRRIGATION FIRM DISMISSED

SHARE FAMILY’S WRONGFUL-DEATH LAWSUIT AGAINST IRRIGATION FIRM DISMISSED

A 4th District judge has dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the American Fork Irrigation Co., filed by the family of a Highland man who drowned last year while trying to save a young boy.

The family of John C. Whipple sued the irrigation company, claiming a culvert it owns is unsafe. Whipple and Eric Larsen, 10, drowned in the culvert last June during a birthday party for Whipple's son.Larsen fell into the ditch while trying to fill up a container. Whipple jumped in after him and both were washed under by the 25-mph current. Neither surfaced until they were found lodged under a bridge about 100 feet from where they fell in.

The lawsuit claimed the culvert is unsafe because it has steep sides, a slick surface and a dangerous debris trap.

In dismissing the suit, Judge Lynn W. Davis ruled that earlier Utah Supreme Court rulings give canal owners more protection than other property owners. The courts have ruled that debris traps and swift currents are easily recognized conditions of canals and are not deceptive. The Supreme Court said local governments are in a better position to regulate canal safety by imposing protective requirements.