Mother sues Mormon Church, youth leader in son's drowning death

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  • thinking out loud SLC, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:37 p.m.

    These kinds of lawsuits make my husband and I think twice before wanting to do any volunteering for youth groups. On the other hand, if it was my child that died, I think it would take all of the strength I could muster and some Heavenly help to forgive and not be bitter.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 2:48 p.m.

    I'm reading a whole lot of animated conclusions with a jumble of data posing as facts. The complaint says one thing, the accident report another. Why is everyone so exercised before they discover the truth?

    I'd add one other inconvenient question: Did the parents drop the young man off at the activity or have someone pick him up, and, did they ask questions about # of chaperons? Every time one of my children went on some activity with other young people there had to be at least 2 chaperon's for me to let them go. I knew them by name. I held my son back from one activity because there was only one adult present and they were awaiting the 2nd. I said, "fine, he can go when that person comes. Let me know."

    As to a settlement, I guarantee the LDS Church will bend over backwards to properly settle this with the parents, even if the parents don't have a leg to stand on. At the same time it will be used as an instructional model for other volunteers.

    And please do remember and have compassion on the volunteers. This severely affects them as well.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:50 a.m.

    having served as Young Men's President in my ward and also being part of the Scouting program for years it is ALWAYS a good idea for dad's to go along on the outings with their sons. Leaving your son's well being in the hands of others is always a risk in spite of how well meaning the leaders are. Many times there are only a couple of leaders trying to keep track of 3-4 times as many boy and it is so much better to have an even percentage of adults vs boys - especially if the activity involves out door high adventure. It sounds like this particular case was just bad judgement and even carelessness on the part of the leader and the boy but that is why having a dad along is a great double check for safety.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Sept. 11, 2012 10:07 a.m.

    It is impossible for leaders to control every little thing that each child under their care does. Impossible. We always did stupid things when we were up scouting. We could have easliy been injured, or killed. We snuck out at night and went on night hikes, got lost. Took off in a canoe at bear lake and got stuck in the middle of the lake in a summer super cell storm that capsized us and we had to swim back. The leaders do their best, they have the best interest of the kids in mind, but can only do so much. If you don't want your kids to risk being hurt or killed then take them out of scouts. Danger is inherant in the activities they do. I am truly sorry for the tragic loss of the kid. Lawsuit is frivilous, however.

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    A bear eats your child while camping, sue the Forest Service for not posting a sign.

    Lightening strikes boys scouts, sue the BSA.

    Youth drowns on LDS activity, sue the LDS Church.

    Man spills coffee on self, sues McDonalds.

    What is going on?

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 8:30 a.m.

    Bad judgment:
    1. Any water activities should never be unsupervised.
    2. Fifty yard swim in cold water without a life jacket is risky.

  • TRUTH Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 11, 2012 4:42 a.m.

    So fine have it your way.....ban all church activities for the youth and take your own kid boating....

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 10, 2012 6:32 p.m.

    Why didn't this boy's own father make the effort to go along on this trip? It is a customary and common occurrence for fathers to go along and offer a helping hand.

    Those who are least inclined to help are always first in line to criticize those who take an active part.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Sept. 10, 2012 11:58 a.m.

    Is anyone else here struck by the wisdom and sensibility of always having "two adults" present for the benefit and safety of kids?

    Why in the world doesn't that sensibility extend to single mothers in society?

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Sept. 10, 2012 11:16 a.m.


    "The purpose of the Court is to determine which side is supported by the preponderance of the evidence."

    Where did you find this? America's court system was designed to get to the truth, not to see who can tell the most persuasive story. Have you heard the oath each witness takes before testimony? It sounds like you would rather the oath go something like, "Do you swear to try to make your testimony fit your side's story as best you can?" LOL

    I assume that O.J. Simpson is innocent in your eyes because his attorney was the most persuasive and convinced jurors with his 'evidence'. In the eyes of the law he is innocent because of the persuasion of his attorneys, but I will always maintain that there were plenty of lies on both sides and Judge Ito allowed and promoted the lies. Simpson was either truly innocent or is not. The law may or may not have established that. If attorneys were compelled to the truth, as their oath states, then this would have been a quite different court case, imho, even though the outcome may have been the same.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Sept. 10, 2012 11:02 a.m.

    You ask how one knows when lies are being presented in court. You are correct that sometimes it is perspective, not clear cut truth versus lies. I am not referring to those situations at all. But I can say that I have been involved in at least a dozen court cases personally, and in EVERY one of those cases, I seen attorneys lie over and over, sometimes on both sides. And I have been on juries where the judge has instructed that a defendant has the right to have representation of anything truthful or absolute lie in order to achieve a 'fair' trial for the defendant who may be either innocent or guilty. The oath taken by attorneys and judges can be found on the internet. This is an example. "To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him or her those means only as are consistent with truth, and never to seek to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law." How can any court officer lie and keep their oath. Go to court and you'll see that what I say is true.

  • Article-Reader Spanish Fork, UT
    Sept. 10, 2012 9:17 a.m.

    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.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 9, 2012 3:47 p.m.

    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.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 9, 2012 10:24 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Sept. 9, 2012 6:41 a.m.

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

  • wYo8 Rock Springs, WY
    Sept. 8, 2012 7:52 p.m.

    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.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Sept. 8, 2012 6:17 p.m.

    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.

  • Tim Rollins Oklahoma City, OK
    Sept. 8, 2012 6:02 p.m.

    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!!!

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 8, 2012 5:56 p.m.

    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.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Sept. 8, 2012 5:20 p.m.

    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.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 8, 2012 4:38 p.m.

    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.

  • NevadaCoug Overton, NV
    Sept. 8, 2012 3:34 p.m.

    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.

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 8, 2012 10:18 a.m.

    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.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 8, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • The Dixie Kid Saint George, UT
    Sept. 8, 2012 6:28 a.m.

    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.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Sept. 7, 2012 5:58 p.m.

    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.

  • JCH San Diego, CA
    Sept. 7, 2012 2:49 p.m.

    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?

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 7, 2012 2:45 p.m.

    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?

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Sept. 7, 2012 1:44 p.m.


    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.

  • El Chango Supremo Rexburg, ID
    Sept. 7, 2012 1:05 p.m.

    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.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 7, 2012 12:48 p.m.

    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.