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Parents of boy who drowned filed lawsuit against Boy Scouts

Published June 16, 2012 9:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Las Vegas couple is suing the Boy Scouts of America for negligence after their son died in July 2011 while in a summer camp scuba diving program in Bear Lake.

Christopher and Sherry Tuvell filed the wrongful-death lawsuit against the national organization this week in U.S. District Court on behalf of their 12-year-old son David Christopher Tuvell.

On July 13, 2011, David was participating in Discover Scuba Program, which is offered by and through several agencies and business, including the Boy Scouts of America, Bear Lake Boy Scout Aquatic Camp, Blue Water Scuba, dive instructors Lowell Huber and Corbertt Douglas and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. All are defendants in the lawsuit.

The boy was diving with another Scout, a Scoutmaster and a diving instructor in about 14 feet of water in a roped-off area on the east side of Bear Lake. In the diving area, there is a line laid along the bottom of the lake to guide divers back to shore. The instructor and the Scoutmaster surfaced, leaving the two boys holding onto the line. When the instructor dove again, the two boys were no longer holding onto the line and were nowhere in sight, according to news reports. One boy was found farther out from shore and brought back in alive; it took about 30 minutes for searchers to find Tuvell, who was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants failed to ensure the boy was properly equipped, dressed and weighted. It states that they provided defective equipment and did not manage, monitor or supervise the boy's air supply.

When the emergency situation arose, the parties failed to aid and properly rescue Tuvell, the lawsuit alleges.

"Defendant Corbett Douglas and other defendants failed to prepare and implement an adequate dive plan," the lawsuit states.

The parents claim all the defendants were negligent, strictly liable and failed to warn of the dangers posed by being part of the diving program.

The Tuvells seek an unspecified amount in punitive and compensatory damages.

rorellana@sltrib.com