A Cobb County couple allege in a lawsuit a state agency did not follow its own “internal directives” to find and remove dead and dangerous trees before a falling tree struck and killed their daughter in May 2017 in a Bartow County state park.
Patricia Ann Dalgleish and Kenneth Blair Dalgleish want a jury to determine the damages they will receive in the wrongful death lawsuit filed in Bartow County Superior Court.
The Dalgleishes filed the suit almost two years after their daughter Joelle Morgan Dalgleish, 15, died after the tree struck her in the head as she was lying in a hammock at a campsite in Red Top Mountain State Park.
“Had Georgia Department of Natural Resources maintained its premises as required by its own internal directives, the incident described in this Complaint would never have happened,” the complaint stated.
Former governor Roy Barnes, a Marietta attorney, is representing the couple in the lawsuit related to the Harrison High School student’s death.
A Department of Natural Resources spokesman said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. The park is in southeastern Bartow County on the shores of Lake Allatoona.
The lawsuit said “as evidenced in the manner it describes the activities, facilities and amenities available at Red Top Mountain State Park” on its website, the department “reasonably expected patrons to encounter and interact with the natural and wooded areas, including trees, located throughout the park.”
Joelle Dalgleish was part of a group which reserved and paid to use two campsites at the park to celebrate a friend’s 16th birthday, the lawsuit stated. She died of injuries sustained after a tree fell and struck her while she and a friend were laying in separate hammocks, both attached to the tree.
“Investigation of the campsite on the morning of May 20, 2017, and a follow-up investigation on May 22, 2017, revealed the fallen tree was dead and lacked a viable root system holding the tree in the ground, the condition of which was, or should have been, apparent to any reasonable DNR employee or agent undertaking to inspect and assess for dead or dangerous trees in the park in and around the campsites.