HomeOutdoorsNational Park Service Sued By Family After Woman Died at Utah’s Arches National Park

National Park Service Sued By Family After Woman Died at Utah’s Arches National Park

by Halle Ames
(Photo Credit: Education Images/ Getty Images)

The National Park Service is under fire after a woman died at Utah’s Arches National Park. Her family is suing the service.

The family of a woman’s rights activist is filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Denver against the National Park Service. They are also filing a personal injury claim due to the Ugandan woman’s decapitation at Utah’s Arches National Park in June of 2020. 

Disaster at Arches National Park

According to a claim filed in October, 25-year-old Esther Nakajjigo and 26-year-old Ludovic Michaud celebrated their one-year anniversary with a trip to the Arches National Park in Utah.

The couple left their campsite at Arches National Park in search of ice cream. Unfortunately, an unsecured metal gate was blown shut by strong winds. The car, which was driving through the entrance, was caught by the gate and sliced straight through the vehicle. They describe it as cutting through the metal car, “like a hot knife through butter.”

While the gate missed Michaud’s side of the car, his wife, Esther, was not as lucky. It killed her instantly. He describes the scene as the “worst thing I hope I will ever see.”

“I had a ton of flashbacks. Several dozen per day,” Michaud said during an interview in November. “I’m still trying to figure out how to move forward, how to wake up in the morning. We just don’t want this to ever happen again.”

The claim also stated that the federal government knew about the issue with the unsecured, dangerous gates at Arches National Park. They noted that in 1980, a gate pole impaled a man while in Stanislaus National Forest in California.

Although the lawsuit does not disclose how much money the family is seeking in damages, in November, they reportedly wanted nearly $30 million. Michaud wanted more than $240 million. 

According to USA Today, notices of claim must be filed ahead of lawsuits against government agencies, and the lawsuit was filed June 8 in federal court.

Furthermore, the National Parks Service sent an email to the Associated Press late last year offering her condolences to the woman’s family and friends. However, on Monday, a spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, Fox13-KSTU reported. 


Esther Nakajjigo was a philanthropic woman from Uganda. According to USA Today, she used her college tuition money to establish a nonprofit health center for women nearly 17 years ago.

Additionally, she had received several humanitarian awards and created a reality television series directed to empower young mothers. While in Colorado, she was attending a social-entrepreneurship program at the Watson Institute in Boulder.

The claim also called Esther a future philanthropist that people could identify along with other notable names. 

“For want of an $8 basic padlock, our world lost an extraordinary warrior for good. A young woman influencer who was destined to become our society’s future Princess Diana, Philanthropist Melinda Gates or Oprah Winfrey.”