Statement Regarding Garcia vs. Washington County

Release date: 04/26/2017
Sponsored by: County Administrative Office

In August of 2014, a devastating tragedy resulted in the drowning deaths of four members of a close-knit Hillsboro family at Henry Hagg Lake. Washington County has been advised that the trial involving a wrongful death lawsuit brought by surviving family members against the County has been cancelled. This was in response to the parties' request to Circuit Court Judge Andrew Erwin to reconsider the county's motion for summary judgment based on recreational immunity. Judge Erwin agreed and is expected to issue his final order within the next month. 

Since the incident, Washington County has engaged in an extensive water safety campaign with community partners from SafeKids Washington County, a coalition of public agencies and private businesses who work to prevent childhood injuries and promote community-wide safety initiatives.  

Also, numerous strategies to enhance safety have been implemented at the lake, to include installation of several additional life jacket loaner stations and emergency throw rings, additional warning signs, in Spanish and English, and pictographs which alert visitors to uneven drop-offs, and "Swim Watch" wrist bands which encourage adults to monitor the water activities of children at all times.  

Although Washington County made these safety improvements in the hope of preventing future tragedies, the single most effective deterrent to drowning is the vigilant use of U.S. Coast Guard-certified personal floatation devices when recreating in or near the water. 

Washington County officials and staff continue to mourn the loss of the Garcia family and extend their ongoing and heartfelt condolences to their family members and friends.   


Media Contact:

Philip Bransford, Communications Officer