Comments about ‘Mother sues Mormon Church, youth leader in son's drowning death’

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Published: Friday, Sept. 7 2012 11:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, Utah

Yes, this was a tragic accident, but that is exactly what it was, an accident. If the family thinks a lawsuit will bring them inner peace they will be sadly disappointed.

El Chango Supremo
Rexburg, ID

It sounds like the leader was very negligent to me. One of the rules for any youth activity is that there are at least TWO adults present at all times. I'm also fairly certain that any boating trip requires life jackets. Dropping a youth off 50 yards from shore is just plain reckless!

When I was a scout leader for my ward, we had to undergo training covering these sorts of things. I don't know if the church is responsible, but I think there's a case against the leader.

Provo, UT


I guess not everyone is living at the lofty spiritual plane on which you reside.

My condolences to this family for their loss. It is unfortunate that those acting in official leadership positions in the Church do not take their callings as seriously as they ought.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
"It is unfortunate that those acting in official leadership positions in the Church do not take their callings as seriously as they ought."

Your screen name would indicate that you have at least a passing knowledge of the LDS Church. You would therefore understand that service is on a voluntary basis, and that it takes some minimal amount of effort to give up a week's vacation with your family to spend with the youth.

Before I decided to criticize this youth leader I suppose I might ask myself about my own personal commitment. It takes so little effort to criticize others, especially if I am doing little or nothing myself.

How about just a touch of compassion for a man who lives with the knowledge that a young man in his charge died?

San Diego, CA

How is this in federal court? Aren't the Joneses and Sorenson from St. George? Didn't the accident happen in Utah? Where is the LDS Church, if not Utah?

Of course, Chad Bowers is a Las Vegas attorney. Were the Joneses Nevada residents? If so, why were they participating in a St. George ward event?

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

This is a tragedy and an accident. Fifty yards is 150 feet from shore. Should the leader have gone closer to shore. Of course. Should there have been two Adults present. Yes, and if not the entire trip should have been cancelled. This case will be settled outside of court in favor of the parents. Adult leaders will receive further enlightenment that on ALL youth activities that two adult males will be present. This was done in error. The adult leader errored grievously resulting in the loss of life. Regardless, he is hurting much more than any law suit will ever do. Will he be released from his calling. Quite possibly. This doesn't appear to be a scouting activity but just a youth activity. Either way two adults should have been present along with at least one member of the bishopric. I'm sure this will be corrected. My condolences to the families involved.

The Dixie Kid
Saint George, UT

The facts in this article are very one-sided. I have heard reports from people who were there that he made it to shore, and that he was not dropped off 50 yards from the shore. Don't believe everything you read.

Salt Lake City, Utah

@ The Dixie Kid: If he made it to shore, how did he drown? Are you suggesting that after he swan to shore he swam back out again? And if he did, why didn't anyone see him go back out again and why wasn't there a leader there to make sure he was safe? The fact that the report is that the people in the boat saw him make it to shore does not make it better. Anyone who knows anything about water safety knows you do not ever leave one person on their own in the water. At the very least, another youth should have been with him. Preferably, the boat should have been by him.

@ Rifleman: The family is asking for $75,000. In the world of lawsuits, that is pocket change. The point is not the money (if it were the lawsuit would be for at least a million), they are suing to protect other children in the future.

This is a tragic event because it could have (and should have) been prevented. Church activities should be the one place you can send your children and trust that they will be returned safely to you.

Just an Observer
Salt Lake City, UT

I must say that I am frankly skittish of sending my own kids on any kind of outing into the mountains or on a body of water. But I also think that if something did happen to one of them on an outing, it would only make it worse for me and my wife to become bitter and try to make it worse for the youth leader with a suit--or to get some money out of it. How much better would it be to simply forgive to allow yourself the chance to heal as well as you possibly can.

Overton, NV

Read the article. This article reports that the official Park Report filed after the accident states that the boy made it to shore. He went missing later.

It seems to me that the claims made in the law suit do not match what was in the official Park report.


Sadly, this type of accident does not surprise me. A few years ago the youth in our ward were taken to a resort area (not UT) for a ski/sledding trip. Several leaders and youth went. One night we got a call from our son around 9 pm that he had hurt his arm (sledding) and, according to him, had not received any treatment--not pain reliever, ice or anything. He claimed he brought it to a leader's attention and they looked at it but did nothing else. Long story short, he had a fracture. The day after he returned we were horrified when a member of the Stk High Council (member of our ward) spoke in Sacrament meeting about the "fun" trip. He told a story of going up with another leader to the top of a double-black diamond ski run, visibility poor, and hearing two voices calling out his name and finding our son and another kid (both inexperienced skiers, 12 yrs old) at the top of the mountain. I was shocked 1) at the lack of supervision 2)that the leader himself didn't recognize the danger/liability in the situation.

Colorado Springs, CO

Nice to see the speculation on both sides, as it will take a court case to get the facts out. No wonder our legal system is in shambles.


Even if Tory Jones made it to shore, what guidelines/precautions suggest it is okay for a leader to leave one group of kids alone, on shore, while he goes somewhere else?

There should always be at least 2 leaders, minimum. Were there any other adults present?

The article really doesn't give us many details. One question I have, is if the church had a planned activity scheduled but it didn't take place was it cancelled for some reason? Was Mr. Sorenson just taking the youth out on his own because the other activity fell through?

I feel deeply sorry for Tory Jone's family and friends.

I don't know Mr. Sorenson so this isn't about him, but it has been my observation that sometimes the adult "supervisors" have the same maturity level of those they are supposed to be supervising.

Tim Rollins
Oklahoma City, OK

If there had not been TWO ADULTS present at ALL parts of the activity, it should NEVER HAVE TAKEN PLACE, PERIOD!! NO EXCUSES, NO EXCEPTIONS!!! Rules such as these are in place for the safety of both youth and leaders alike. Having served in leadership myself once upon a time, those rules help ensure the enjoyment and creation of happy memories. If there is anything good to come from this, it is to ensure that better training is provided to leaders before placing them in active service in their callings...this is ESPECIALLY SO if they are working with youth or children!!!

Cinci Man

This is truly a sad situation and I feel despair for the families in their tragedy. I suspect that as is the case many times, the court will be fed lies from one side or the other or both, and someone will be asked to figure out what MIGHT be the truth and consequences will come accordingly. Often times the Church settles court cases to spare the families unnecessary pain that their own attorneys care nothing about. Follow the $$$, and an attorney will be standing close by, imho. Imagine a justice system where attorneys and judges, consistent with the oath they take, will not present a case or argument built on lies.

Rock Springs, WY

Yes the leader should have had another adult. But try and ask a parent to step up and help most times is like pulling teeth. Also most kids you can tell them the rules and you turn around and they are doing what you just asked them not to do. Especailly certain types; don't like to be told what to do, learning disabilities, etc and kids doing stupid things. Had a boy once tell me he had done a swim check for scout camp. Well because of water temperature the camp wanted everyone to jump in and tread water for a minute. Everyone but him did it and when I tried to get him to do it he admitted he could not swim. So maybe a parent of one of these boys should be asking themselves why didn't I step up and help especailly if help was wanted.

Harwich, MA

I hope the family receives the proper compensation for their loss.

Salt Lake City, Utah

@ Cinci Man: And how, exactly, do you determine who is lying and who is not? The purpose of the Court is to determine which side is supported by the preponderance of the evidence. Just because more evidence supports one side than it does the other, does not mean either side is lying - it may just mean that the two sides have different perspectives and opinions.

It is a well-documented fact that eye-witness testimony is fallible. It is a well-documented fact that different people remember different parts of the same events.

The only way to know who has the preponderance of the evidence - especially in a case like this - is to have an impartial party - aka the Court - examine the evidence and reach a conclusion.

And yes, there is an attorney involved. But to complain about that is similar to complaining about a plumber being involved in the installation of the water and waste pipes in your home. There is a reason professionals are involved - it is because they know how to do things properly and make sure you don't end up with the wrong thing in wrong spot.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah

No one can truly appreciate the efforts of volunteers who work with youth unless they have walked in their shoes. Yes, sometimes mistakes are made. One commenter above stated that
'it is unfortunate that those acting in official leadership positions in the Church do not take their callings as seriously as they ought". It is unfortunate that the Man upstairs has to depend on humans to do His work.

Meantime those who accept calls to serve and come up short will always be targets of those who have an axe to grind.

Spanish Fork, UT

The mistake here is blaming the LDS Church. True, the church does call leaders, but those leader are not obligated to accept callings, and when the calling involves scouting, the person called has to fill out scouting forms and be approved by the BSA. The lawsuit should name the Boy Scouts of America, and not the LDS Church, because the LDS Church's policy is that all outings involving young men are scouting activities and not church activities.
As a former scout master myself, I can't tell you how many trainings I had on that particular issue. If the adult failed to follow scouting protocol in this case, then neither the Church, or the BSA, has any obligation to that family, since in order to be properly certified as a scout leader, the man in charge had to pass off many online trainings through the BSA. . . The LDS church doesn't offer training other than through the BSA, and the LDS church will only call leaders that can be certified through the BSA, and has a standing policy that those leaders must be certified within 4 weeks of accepting the calling.

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