Federal government pays $425,000 to settle boat accident suit

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The federal government has agreed to pay $425,000 as part of a settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the deadly April 10, 2010, boating accident below Dam Number 3, near Harmar on the Allegheny River.

Gary L. Watson and Brian R. Abercrombie died and Cale C. Watson was injured in the accident in which current sucked their boat toward the water flowing over the dam, causing it to capsize. The lawsuit said there were no warnings of hazards near the dam, despite recirculating currents, in violation of the Army Corps of Engineers' sign practices.

The federal government will pay $200,000 to survivors of Gary Watson and the same to survivors of Mr. Abercrombie, according to Matthew Doebler, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys.

The government will pay Cale Watson $25,000. Cale Watson, of North Huntingdon, who was 30 at the time of the accident, is the son of Gary Watson, and was both a plaintiff and a defendant in the case. In the settlement he agrees to pay the survivors of his father and of Mr. Abercrombie $1 million. Mr. Doebler said that Cale Watson has insurance coverage.

There are no non-monetary terms to the settlement, but Mr. Doebler said the survivors want to send a message. "There are low-head dams all around our rivers," Mr. Doebler said. "More than anything, they wanted this case to let people know that these structures are very dangerous, and that more should be done to keep people away from them.

"What they would like more than anything is that people stay away from low head dams," Mr. Doebler said, and for agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use better signs and educate the public. mobilehome - breaking - neigh_north - neigh_east

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord.


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