Family of Cummins Falls victim claims state's negligence led to 2-year-old's death

Posted at 1:17 PM, Jul 01, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The family of a 2-year-old Kentucky boy claims negligence by the State of Tennessee led to the toddler’s death at Cummins Falls.

Steve Pierce was visiting the gorge with his family back in June when the water started to rise. He was swept away while they were trying to cross the river.

Crews found his body the next day.

A letter from the family’s attorney is asking for a settlement from the state and the Department of Environment and Conservation.

The state has 90 days to respond – if not, they will proceed with a suit before the claims commission.

According to attorneys, the state’s negligence stemmed from:

  • “Opening the park on Sunday, when rain was in the forecast, after the park had been closed for rain the previous two days”
  • “Keeping the park open despite receiving a call from the National Weather Service at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Sunday that rain was coming to the park area”
  • “Failing to install a stream gauge water measurement warning system following the deaths of two people in 2017, despite the State’s public statements that it would install such a system”
  • “Failing to provide life jackets or flotation devices at the scene of the flash flooding (life jackets are available in the park, and Steven Pierce was wearing one that day; but guests must return the life jackets before they reach the scene where the flash flood occurred)”

Read the full letter here.