A federal judge ruled Monday that the U.S. will grant more than $10 million in damages to the family of Esther Nakajjigo after she was beheaded in an accident at a Utah national park in 2020.
Attorneys representing her family celebrated the decision, saying it was the most significant federal wrongful death verdict in state history.
“By his verdict, Judge Bruce Jenkins has shown the world how the American justice system works to hold its own government accountable and greatly values all lives, including that of Esther Nakajjigo, a remarkable young woman from Uganda,” Randi McGinn, the family’s attorney, said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.
The 25-year-old Ugandan human rights activist and her husband, Ludovic Michaud, were on vacation months after their wedding.
On the edge of Arches National Park, a metal gate — usually secured with a lock — was left untied. Recreation areas had recently opened following COVID-19 pandemic-related closures.
As the 25-year-old Nakajjigo and her husband were leaving the park, a strong wind threw the gate around, shredding through the passenger side door of the car, and decapitating Nakajjigo while her husband was driving.