Duncan Woods groundskeeper suit set aside

The third of three lawsuits regarding a fatal sledding accident in Grand Haven more than three years ago has been set aside until a decision is made on the appeals of the other two court cases.
Becky Vargo
May 23, 2013


All three lawsuits were filed on behalf of Diane Nash, mother of Chance Nash, an 11-year-old Nunica boy who died Dec. 31, 2009, after his sled hit a stump at the base of a hill at Duncan Memorial Park.

Attorney John Tallman, who represents the Nash family, said the lawsuit against the park's groundskeeper was adjourned last week by Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Hulsing, “until a determination can be made in the other cases.”

Hulsing had previously dismissed lawsuits filed against the Duncan Park Commission and the Duncan Park trustees and trust.

The commissioners, or trustees at the time, were Ed Lystra, Jerry Scott and Rodney Griswold.

A year ago, an appeal on the first lawsuit was filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals, Tallman said. Last week, the Grand Rapids attorney filed a brief on the second appeal. Those two appeals are being consolidated and will be heard as one case, Tallman said.

The lawsuits asked for in excess of $25,000 in damages for the family and claimed that the members of the Duncan Woods Commission had the responsibility to maintain what is known as a popular sledding area in Grand Haven.

In a previous story, Lystra said the boy was not injured in one of the park's normal sledding areas — off Woodlawn Avenue or by the park’s picnic area.

The first lawsuit was dismissed because the judge said the commission was part of the city's government and thus had immunity, Tallman said.

The second lawsuit was dismissed because the judge said the trust doesn’t exist. There are no trustees. The city owns the park, Tallman said.

Since the decision on the second case was made late last year, there was a need to clarify the ordinance that establishes the park's commission, City Manager Pat McGinnis said. With the ordinance changed, a new five-member city-appointed commission has been seated.

The park's groundskeeper, Bob DeHare, said he recently met with the commission and they voted to keep him on the job.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



We all went sliding there as kids and still do . Yes it's a sham that this happened , but its no ones fault ! It was an accident and you took your child there you were not forced ! If nothing happened you would still be sliding there yet today ! Sorry for your loss but move on ,remember him as a happy kid enjoying life as short as it was doing something he liked doing as a family !!


This is a difficult situation and what is needed here is more information. Was this stump in the direct path of sledders?, were there previous complaints or people getting hurt because of negligence in the area? All these questions need exploring before one can conclude if this was just an unfortunate incident or there was unsafe conditions that were ignored or negligence may be involved.

We are recall Sony Bono, who died while downhill skiing in CA when he hit a tree at high speed. I do not think there was negligence involved becasue he veered off course. I guess in the case of the 11 year old boy, one would ask was the stump in a popular area where kids sled often? Was there any previous complaints in the past? After all is said and done, unless the stump was in the pathway of sledders, you can only conclude that this was just an unfortunate accident. Trees fall over every season that may or may not be cut down, but in this case, stumps only need to be removed if it is in the nearby path of sledders in my opinion. This is the question that really needs to be answered. If this was a potential hazard that was not reported previously, or the boy veered off course, I'm not sure how you can hold anyone accountable.


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