Marion Adams, a popular track and field coach and multimedia teacher at Rio Linda High School, died after he became impaled in the arm of a gate at the school. According to a news report in The Sacramento Bee, the fatal incident occurred on March 4, 2013 as Adams, 59, was riding his bicycle after track practice at the school. He looked over his shoulder to say goodbye to a student when he did not see the partially open metal swing gate in the school parking lot. At his rate of speed, Adams was impaled by the gate arm. He initially survived two surgeries to treat internal injuries, but later succumbed to them. The Bee reports that the entire school has been plunged in grief and shock, trying to deal with this senseless tragedy.
What Caused This Tragic Incident?
Based on this news report, it is not clear precisely what caused this incident, which has been described by many as a “freak” accident. There are still several unanswered questions here. Was this accident the result of a dangerous condition on the school’s property? Was the gate supposed to be closed all the time? If so, who left it open? Was there something about the design of these gates that made them dangerous? Have there been other similar incidents at locations where these gates were installed? These are some of the important questions that must be asked in order to determine who was at fault and who, if anyone, should be held liable.
Potential Liability Issues
If a dangerous condition on campus caused this incident, then the coach’s family members can file a claim against the school and the school district. Such claims, under California law, must be filed within six months of the incident. If the gate was defectively designed, the manufacturer can be held liable for the coach’s wrongful death. The family may then be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
This incident also raises the important question of whether these gates are dangerous and whether they should be removed from school campuses and other locations where they could pose a danger to the public. It is also important to look into whether an improvement can be made to the design of these gates so they can prevent similar tragedies in the future.