SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a Colorado man who died when a tree that Boy Scouts chopped down fell on him as he rode his motorcycle in southern Utah has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Edgar E. Riecke, 69, of Durango, was riding north on state Route 12 between Boulder and Torrey on Oct. 11, 2014, when he came around a corner and the tree "fell directly on top of him, killing him," according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court.
Troop 603 of Fruit Heights was collecting firewood on the Dixie National Forest in Garfield County when two boys, ages, 17 and 14, cut down a live aspen tree near the highway. The troop had a permit to gather fallen wood but not remove green or standing trees, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says the boys spent 45 minutes cutting down the fully grown tree and Scout leaders failed to supervise them during that time.
Any reasonable person of the Scouts' "age, experience and intelligence would have foreseen that a tree falling near any roadway was highly dangerous and capable of causing injury to a nearby motorist," the lawsuit says. The suit also claims adult leaders let the boys use axes, chain saws and bow saws without reasonable supervision.
“While we cannot comment on active litigation, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone affected by this tragic incident and we extend our deepest sympathies to all those involved," said Allen Endicott, Trapper Trails Council Scout executive.
Endicott noted that the Garfield County attorney, U.S. Forest Service and other law enforcement agencies concluded that it was a "tragic accident."
"Safety is integral to everything we do, and the Boy Scouts of America continues to place great importance on providing a safe environment for all involved, including Scouts, leaders and the public," he said.
The lawsuit filed by Riecke's son and two daughters seeks an unspecified amount in damages. Riecke was a retired chemist and competitive cyclist.
Named as defendants are the Boy Scouts of America, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors the troop, the Ogden-based Trapper Trails Council, five Scout leaders, the two Boy Scouts and the younger Scout's parents.