Another Suit Filed in 2010 Albert Pike Campground Flood
A southwest Arkansas man whose wife and 3-year-old son were killed in a 2010 flood at a campground in western Arkansas is suing the federal government, saying the U.S. Forest Service should have warned campers of the danger.
Adam Jez, 28, of Foreman, filed the lawsuit Wednesday (April 11) in U.S. District Court, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. In the suit, Jez claims the Albert Pike Campground – now closed – had a documented history of flooding and that Forest Service officials neglected to post signs and take other steps to warn of the danger along the Little Missouri River.
On June 11, 2010, the river left its banks after a thunderstorm stalled over the Ouachita Mountains, which drain into the river. The campground, located in a ravine along the Little Missouri, flooded rapidly. A torrent that was more than 7 feet deep swept away tents, trucks, RVs and cement and asphalt pads.
Jez’s wife, 23-year-old Leslie Jez, and their son Kaden Jez were among the 20 people who died in the flood. Survivors were stranded in trees for hours.
Ashdown attorney Mickey Buchanan, who filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Texarkana on Adam Jez’s behalf, said he hopes the government is willing to settle.
“At this point, we’ve, gathered all the information we can. I think the facts are all there – the government’s investigation and report cites a lot of information. We have filed our claim. We’re waiting for their response and (will) see if we can resolve this,” Buchanan said.
The lawsuit says that on the morning of the flood, Adam Jez awoke between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. to find rushing water up to the door of the family’s camper, which soon began to float. The Jez and Wade families were still inside.
“Jez held onto his wife Leslie, who was clutching their son. Sheri Wade and Randall Wade were with them,” the lawsuit states. “The family managed to stay together in the roiling water and pouring rain by holding onto anything they could, while dodging trees, limbs, vehicles and other debris in the pitch black.”
“Because of the force of the rising current, however, the family eventually lost their footing and became separated. Neither Adam Jez nor Randall Wade saw the other three again once they were separated,” the lawsuit states.
Leslie Jez’s mother, 46-year-old Sheri Wade, of Ashdown, also died.
Forest Service spokesman Tracy Farley said she couldn’t comment because the agency doesn’t discuss matters under litigation.
The Forest Service investigated the circumstances surrounding the deadly flood and issued a scathing report in October 2010 that concluded the best way to have prevented flooding deaths at the site would have been to have never built the campground.
The lawsuit says the Forest Service was negligent in not warning the campers when the weather became severe and by not posting signs that the area was prone to flooding, despite a history of flooding there as far back as 1940.
The lawsuit also cites the lack of available communications as part of the Forest Service’s negligence. Rescuers weren’t immediately dispatched, and it took four days for them to find the last of the bodies.
The suit seeks damages for the wrongful deaths of Jez’s wife and son, but doesn’t list a dollar amount.
Several other lawsuits have also been filed by other people who lost family members in the flood. The victims included people from Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.