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Missouri Department of Conservation Sued Over 2018 Drowning

— September 16, 2021

The Missouri Department of Conservation was recently hit with a wrongful death lawsuit over a 2018 drowning.

The state of Missouri is under fire in a new wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of a woman who drowned in 2018 after she was “swept away by the current of the Meramec River at Castlewood State Park.” The woman who drowned was Rose Shaw. Her mother, Bobbiere Shaw, said the Department of Natural Resources and others “were negligent by failing to provide lifeguards at the site and by not modifying or closing access to the notorious stretch of river.”

Image of a drowning warning sign
Drowning warning sign; image courtesy of
OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay,

The suit itself was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court. This wasn’t the first time someone drowned in the river, though. In fact, “more than a dozen people have died at the river at Castlewood State Park in the past 20 years.” In 2006, five children tragically drowned, and in July 2021, “16-year-old Kara Wrice, a rising junior at Webster Groves High School, drowned while swimming at Castlewood.” After Shaw was swept away by the river current, her body, and the body of another, were found “about seven hours after they went underwater.”

In addition to naming the state, the suit also names the Department of Conservation and two other defendants “identified only as John Doe 1 and 2.” The complaint states:

“Defendants had notice of the drowning hazards at Castlewood State Park prior to Shaw’s death…Defendants … knew or by using ordinary care should have known of the unsafe condition of the property, and had ample opportunity to make the area safe for invitees.”

Roger Brown is a Jefferson City attorney with experience suing the state for damages. He noted that “Shaw’s lawsuit will be tough to win because the state generally has more protection from lawsuits than a private business would have.” He added, “They’ve got a challenging case, but if they’ve got the evidence it’s a sympathetic case.”

Bill Bryan, a former director of Missouri State Parks also chimed in and said there were “explicit warning signs at the site while he worked for the department.” He added:

“We put up signage that was intended to clearly alert people that there were risks associated with swimming in the river at that location…They certainly conveyed to any reasonable person that there was a level of danger involved with swimming in the river,” he said. “I think they were more than adequate to let people know that they were at risk.”

At the moment, the suit is seeking unspecified damages.


Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Missouri in 2018 drowning at Castlewood State Park

Woman and girl latest drowning victims in stretch of Meramec River that’s claimed 14 lives in 14 years

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