No parent should ever have to bury their child, but unfortunately, tragedies happen. Two parents found out just how true this is when they lost their 7-year-old boy last August. Sadly, the boy “drowned after being swept away in a drainage ditch,” and now his parents are “suing the City of Shreveport for unspecified damages.”
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Caddo Parish district court on July 25 by Dahtanun Combest and Mary Edmond, the parents of Daysean Combest. According to the suit, the young boy’s death was the “direct result of the negligence of the City of Shreveport.” But what happened? How is the city responsible?
Well, the incident began back on August 1, 2017, when Daysean went missing. According to the suit, “the young boy’s shoes were found by his older sister near a ditch at the family’s home on Orla Avenue.” While the ditch was filled to the brim with rainwater, Daysean was nowhere to be found. Near where his shoes were found, though, the ditch “transitions into a culvert.” For those who don’t know, a culvert is a “tunnel that carries water under a road, sidewalk or other similar structures.” At the transition point, rainwater “enters an extensive underground system,” according to the lawsuit.
Soon after Daysean was reported missing, friends and family began looking for him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t found until August 3. On that day, authorities found his little body in a drainage ditch.
The boy’s parents immediately criticized the city and in their suit, they allege that there “was not grating or any type of guard to prevent the young boy from being swept away.” As a result, they claim the city “failed to determine the need for a grating system, making the culverts dangerous.” The suit states, “The ditch and culvert combination, particularly the ditch, presented an attractive nuisance to a young child.”
Engineers for the city of Shreveport and Bossier City pushed back against the allegations in the lawsuit, though. According to them, the grates and coverings that Daysean’s parent believe should have been in place “could increase flood risks.”
William Bradford, the Shreveport City Attorney has so far declined to comment on the pending litigation, though he did offer condolences to the family. In a statement he said:
“Our hearts are with his family and we will work to conclude this lawsuit with as little emotional impact to them as possible. However, the City of Shreveport must explore all the issues of fact and law related to the passing of Daysean. There are many items to be discussed with the parties and witnesses who are involved.”