A widower is reportedly planning to sue the National Park Service for over $270 million after his wife, a renowned Ugandan human rights activist who had been dubbed the future “Oprah Winfrey,” was decapitated by a freely swinging gate as the couple exited Arches National Park in Utah back in June.
NBC News reported that Newlyweds Esther Nakajjigo, 25, and Ludovic Michaud, 26, were driving out of the park to get ice cream on June 13 when the gate suddenly swung out toward their car, piercing its side “like a hot knife through butter.” This “lance-like” completely decapitated Nakajjigo and nearly did the same to her husband, who was left covered in her blood.
“[Esther] was always willing to help,” Michaud said. “I was a couple of inches from dying, but I didn’t, and right now I have a mission: It’s to make sure what she’s done continues.”
A wrongful death claim that was served to the National Park Service last month claims that Nakajjigo was “destined to become our society’s future Princess Diana, Philanthropist Melinda Gates, or Oprah Winfrey.”
Nakajjigo was an activist who was fighting for the rights of Ugandan girls before she was even an adult. She was named Uganda’s ambassador for women and girls when she was only 17 after she used her college tuition money to found a nonprofit community health center. She later received international acclaim for projects like the Saving Innocence Challenge, a reality show that funded schooling and businesses for hundreds of girls from Lake Victoria island who became pregnant out of desperation in what has become known as “sex for fish.”
Nakajjigo met her husband on a dating site last year in Aurora, Colorado. They married in March and had gone to the national park three months later because Michaud liked its giant sandstone arches, which he was excited to show to his wife.
Michaud argued in his wrongful death claim that his wife would still be alive if National Parks Service workers had simply secured the gate to the Arches parking lot with a padlock. Her decapitation has reportedly left Michaud with post-traumatic stress syndrome, and he finds it difficult to carry out tasks that Nakajjigo left behind, according to his claim.
Despite this, Michaud is hoping that his lawsuit will give him the opportunity to carry out his wife’s humanitarian work.
“Our mission is to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.