Feds to pay to settle fatal boating accident

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The federal government will pay $425,000 as part of a settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the deadly boating accident on April 10, 2010, below Dam No. 3 on the Allegheny River near Harmar.

Gary L. Watson, 59, and Brian R. Abercrombie, 26, died, and Cale C. Watson, who was 30 at the time, was injured, when a current sucked their boat toward the water flowing over the dam, which capsized it. The lawsuit said no warning signs were near the dam, despite the currents, in violation of the Army Corps of Engineers' sign rules.

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

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

"There are low-head dams all around our rivers," Mr. Doebler said. "More than anything, [the plaintiffs] 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."



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