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Utah State student’s family gets $173K in ‘slack line’ death

May 19, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah State University has agreed to pay $172,500 to the parents of a student killed four years ago when he hit a slack line rope tied between two trees while he was biking on campus, according to documents released by the university following a public records request.

The university and Eric Anderson’s parents last week declined to disclose the amount paid as part of their legal settlement, citing a confidentiality agreement. The settlement also includes an agreement for the university to caution students about the dangers of using slack lines.

The amount was revealed Thursday after The Associated Press, The Salt Lake Tribune and the Utah Statesman student newspaper filed public records requests seeking documents about the settlement

Anderson, 24, was on his way home from band practice on the first day of school on Aug. 26, 2013 when he slammed into a chest-high slack line that three students had tied between the trees to practice balancing. He died of cardiac arrest after the slack line severed his trachea, said Carvel Anderson, the student’s father.

His parents originally sought $2 million in monetary damages.

They plan to donate of the settlement to missions run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or possibly establish a scholarship fund at the university, Carvel Anderson said.

He said he and his wife’s main goal in filing the lawsuit was to prevent future slack line accidents.

“We don’t want to stop slack lining, but let’s be careful,” he said.

The university also agreed as part of the settlement to provide free safety cones for students to use around the areas where they set up slack lines and to warn all incoming freshmen about possible slack line dangers. Other universities have since changed their slack line policies after learning about the lawsuit, said Ricky Shelton, the lawyer for Anderson’s parents.

The lawsuit claimed the three students who put up the slack line should have taken it down when they finished using it and that the university put up no barriers to protect cyclists or pedestrians from slack lines. The three students were originally listed as additional defendants in the lawsuit but were later removed.

Lawyers defending the university had claimed Anderson was riding his bike fast with defective brakes.

University spokesman Tim Vitale called Eric Anderson’s death “extremely tragic” and said officials were pleased to resolve the case with a settlement.

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