DENVER (CBS4) – The family of a Denver woman has filed a $270 million wrongful death claim against Arches National Park after she was killed there over the summer. Newlyweds Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo and Ludovic Michaud visited the park in mid June.

(credit: Ludovic Michaud)

They were driving toward the exit when suddenly a gust of wind lifted a metal gate and the arm swung into the roadway. It impaled their car and decapitated Nakajjigo.

(credit: Ludovic Michaud)

“The National Park Service has, in fact, known for decades that an unsecured metal pipe gate creates an undetectable hazard and dangerous condition,” the claim states. It claims three other people have died from similar incidents involving gates in the last 32 years.

The lawsuit alleges that a simple $8 padlock could have prevented the gate from swinging, and claims the park violated regulations.

“For want of an $8 basic padlock, our world lost an extraordinary warrior for good,” the claim continues.

Esther Nakajjigo (credit: Ludovic Michaud)

Nakajjigo, 25, was a Ugandan human rights activist and moved to Colorado in 2019 to attend the Watson Institute in Boulder.

At age 17, Nakajjigo was recognized by the United Nations for her work for women, according to the claim. After seeing a pregnant 14-year-old girl die during a difficult delivery, Nakajjigo decided to use her college tuition money to start a nonprofit community health center that provided free reproductive health services to females aged 10-24.

“This act of selflessness went viral throughout Uganda, and she was featured in numerous magazines and news publications. The United Nations Population Fund awarded her a Woman Achiever Award,” the claim states.

She was also awarded a full scholarship from the king of Buganda.

Nakajjigo created a reality TV show that helped child mothers stay in school and develop life skills, according to The Denver Post.

“The show saw an audience of 6.3 million each week, and Nakajjigo was named Uganda’s ‘Young Personality of the Year,'” the Post reported.

Anica Padilla

Comments (8)
  1. Vanessa Smilansky says:

    A promising young life is tragically cut short. In another tragedy, $270 million is taken away from public parks and put into the pockets of a single family.

  2. Tim says:

    Replace the victim with a white or republican or one of your own and the reaction will be different.

    1. Ed S. says:

      You must be a racist liberal to make such a hateful comment. It seems the left always espouses ‘tolerance’ when they are the least tolerant and strive for division through identity politics of race, ethnicity, gender, you name it, if it divides people, the left embodies it and it spreads like the virus it is.

  3. Jack says:

    Tragic, yes. Her life worth $270M, not really.

  4. Thomas Patchen says:

    The NPS was clearly negligent. The unsecured gate was an accident waiting to happen. The NPS cannot control the wind, but it should secure heavy, iron gates to prevent them from swinging into oncoming traffic and slicing into cars. I’ve read that the accident is on video and the car was not speeding. Rest in peace, Ms. Nakajjigo. To her husband and family, I am so sorry this horrible accident happened – may you all find peace. I love Arches so much and will say a prayer for Esther next time I visit that beautiful place.

  5. RUSerious says:

    It is a shame that this tragedy happened. However that does not entitle people to such a high level of greed. Nobody’s life is worth $270 million. It is a shame her life will be undermined by this lawsuit

  6. WSBoyle says:

    An accident created by an act of nature= CASH COW!!!!!!!!!!!

    How many time prior to this had the wind caused the gate to go over the road.

    How fast was the car traveling that the driver couldn’t react.

    They are actually seeing themselves as citizens.

  7. Robert Gift says:

    Our hearts go outo her husband, relatives and friends.
    By 25, Esther Nakajjigo accomplished more than most people in a lifetime.
    A scholarship should established in her name.

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