Last May, Avishek Sengupta, a 28 year old Maryland man, died the day after he jumped into 13 feet of muddy water as a participant in the Tough Mudder obstacle course race held in West Virginia.
Sengupta’s mother has filed a wrongful death suit in West Virginia against Tough Mudder, alleging that the race organizers did not have enough safety personnel in place and that those who where there failed to monitor the “walk the plank” obstacle where her son jumped in to muddy water, but failed to resurface.
Furthermore, the suit states that the “walk the plank” obstacle was overcrowded, and nothing was done by organizers to track racers to be sure they had safely made it out of the water. Finally, the suit claims it took too long for a rescue diver to search for Sengupta, and for an ambulance to be called to the scene.
Read more about the incident in an article from the Baltimore Sun.
Who is Responsible for Sengupta’s Death?
When someone dies in a tragic accident such as this, it is natural to try to find a cause. Can someone be found responsible for Sengupta’s death? Here are some questions raised in this case:
- Were there appropriate procedures in place to ensure participants’ safety AND were those procedures followed that day? Was there adequate crowd control for such a risky event?
- Why did it take several minutes for a rescue diver to search for Sengupta?
- What responsibility did General Mills (which advertised the “walk the plank” obstacle) have for the death?
- Did the race facility itself (Peacemaker National Training Center in West Virginia) bear responsibility?
- Did racers willingly take on risk of death when they agreed to participate in an event advertised as “hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle course challenges designed to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie”? (source: Tough Mudder website).
Facts to Consider
Here are some interesting facts, however, discussed in news accounts:
- Tough Mudder conducted a review of safety procedures after Sengupta’s death and found them to be satisfactory.
- No members of the rescue staff were disciplined.
- The sheriff’s office investigated Sengupta’s death at the time, and no charges were filed.
But on the other hand:
- Eyewitness accounts indicate that the “walk the plank” obstacle was overcrowded, with participants being told to jump in without regard for whether the coast was clear in the water below.
- Some reports indicate that Sengupta had been jumped onto in the water, more evidence that crowd control was inadequate.
- Why was only one diver present at a 13-foot deep, cold, muddy water pit, AND why was that one diver not wearing appropriate dive gear and ready to jump in on moment’s notice?
The lawyers for all involved parties in this case will have a lot of research to do and many things to prove. We will be following this case with particular interest since helping injured athletes is one of our passions at Abrams Landau, Ltd.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a sporting or other event, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).