Trial Begins For Woman Who Was Beheaded At Utah's Arches National Park

Esther Nakajjigo was a 25-year-old human rights activist who married three months before her death.

The trial has officially begun in the wrongful death lawsuit of Esther Nakajjigo. In June 2020, the 25-year-old was tragically killed when her husband, Ludovic Michaud, drove them through Utah's Arches National Park.

A metal gate in the park whipped around in windy weather, ripping through the passenger door and killing Nakajjigo.

According to CBS News, the lawsuit, filed by Michaud and Nakajjigo's family, states that, due to the gate not being properly secured, a metal pipe turned “into a spear that went straight through the side of a car, decapitating and killing Esther Nakajjigo." The family is seeking $140 million in damages.

Attorney Randi McGinn, who represents Nakajjigo's family, said in court Dec. 5 that Michaud didn’t know his wife had been killed until he smelled blood, turned and saw she was dead. The family left the court as McGinn described the graphic details.

Attorneys representing the park don’t deny the park is to blame but are contending the $140 million in damages. Nakajjigo was on track to become a CEO at a nonprofit, which appears to be how the attorneys are measuring potential damages. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nelson is requesting $3.5 million in damages.

"We don't know with any level of certainty what her plans were,” Nelson said.

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Born in Uganda, Nakajjigo was a human rights activist who was named Uganda's Young Personality of the Year due to her work on a reality television show that assisted child mothers, The Denver Post reported. Michaud and Nakajjigo married in March 2020, just three months before she was killed at the park.

An $8 padlock would have prevented the gate from swinging, according to the lawsuit.

Michaud told CBS affiliate KUTV, "I don't want anyone or any other family to go through what we've been through.”

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