Family of Newlywed Who Was Decapitated by Gate Files $270M Wrongful Death Claim Against National Park Service

Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo and her husband Ludovic Michaud.
Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo and her husband Ludovic Michaud.CBS News

Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo and her husband Ludovic Michaud were on a camping trip when she was decapitated by gate, her family says.

The family of a women's rights activist has filed a wrongful death claim totaling more $270 million against the National Park Service after she was decapitated by a gate at Utah’s Arches National Park.

Newlyweds Esther “Essie” Nakajjigo, 25, and Ludovic “Ludo” Michaud, 26, were on a camping trip over the summer when strong winds blew a metal gate into their car “like a hot knife through butter,” according to the administrative that was filed in October, The Associated Press reported. 

Nakajjigo, a women's advocate from Uganda, was impaled by the gate, which narrowly missed her husband, the claim said.

“I had a ton of flashbacks. Several dozen per day,” Michaud told KCNC. “I’m still trying to figure out how to move forward, how to wake up in the morning.”

The couple were celebrating the anniversary of their first date, he said.

“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,” according to the claim, which must be filed before a wrongful death lawsuit can proceed.

A National Park Service spokeswoman expressed sympathy for Nakajjigo’s family, but did not comment on the claim, The AP reported.

Employees “knew or should have known that winds strong enough to carve stone are certainly strong enough to blow an unrestrained metal pipe gate into the path of an oncoming vehicle,” attorney Deborah Chang wrote in the claim.