The family of a man gored to death by a mountain goat in Olympic National Park a year ago has sued the National Park Service for wrongful death, arguing the park staff knew the animal was a danger to hikers but failed to do anything about it.
Bob Boardman, of Port Angeles, Washington, was gored Oct. 16, 2010, on a trail near
Klahhane Ridge some 17 miles south of Port Angeles. The 63-year-old was protecting other hikers from a goat, estimated at 370 pounds, when it gored him in the thigh and then reportedly stood over him as he bled to death.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington, after the Interior Department earlier this fall rejected a $10 million wrongful death claim brought by Mr. Boardman's wife, Susan Chadd, and stepson, Jacob Haverfield.
"Our investigation of Mr. Boardman’s death found that the Park Service knew this animal was dangerous, documented that this animal was dangerous, and a clear threat to hikers and Park Service staff for nearly four years,” said John Messina, lead attorney on the case with the Tacoma, Washington, law firm of Messina Bulzomi Christensen. "The Park Service failed to follow its own policies to remove dangerous animals from the park. Their failure to act and either remove or kill this animal according to park policy contributed to Mr. Boardman’s preventable death.”
An investigation into the park's handling of the case by the law firm turned up documentation that the goat, known locally as "Klahhane Billy," had established a pattern of "aggressive behavior towards Park Service employees, experienced hikers, Boy Scout troops, (and) families with children."
While the park staff took various approaches to instill a fear of humans into the goat, including shooting bean bags at it and paint balls so it could be tracked, none worked, the law firm alleged. "At one point in 2009, the Park Service discussed more aggressive steps to protect the public from the goat, yet failed to follow through."
The law firm has requested a bench trial.