Court: Drownings not Huron's fault

HURON The city of Huron is not responsible for the 2002 drowning deaths of four people, according to
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

HURON

The city of Huron is not responsible for the 2002 drowning deaths of four people, according to an appeals court ruling.

In July 2002, Sandusky resident Jehrod Smith, 19, was one of four men to die while trying to save 22-year-old Amy Anderson of Findlay from drowning off Nickel Plate Beach in Huron.

Smith's brother-in-law, Kyle Kroetz, 29, and two family friends, Matthew Smith, 21, and Steven Cupec, all of Findlay, also died in the incident. Anderson was saved by firefighters.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by family of the deceased in 2004, claimed the city was negligent in allowing people to swim, according to court records.

At the time, city officials said they had warned people not to swim at the beach because of strong winds and rough waters, and anyone who visited the property was notified. Family of the deceased denied the proper notification was given, according to court records.

Family at the Smith residence declined comment Wednesday. Huron City Manager Andy White did not return calls for comment.

Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone ruled in April the city was not responsible for the deaths. That decision was appealed the following month in the 6th District Court of Appeals in Toledo.

Judges upheld the decision Nov. 30, ruling the city, as a political subdivison, and its employees could not be held liable for damages in a civil suit arising from the deaths.

The lawsuit also alleged the city controlled the waters of Lake Erie and thus was responsible.

"The court found that the city was not an occupier of Lake Erie and did not own it," the ruling states.

The families each sought damages in excess of $25,000. Attorneys for both sides did not return calls for comment.