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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Mom Says Tragic Flood Traumatized Her Boy

(CN) - A boy was traumatized by a flash flood that killed his father and two half sisters, his mother claims in a federal complaint against the U.S. Forest Service.

KSB's family allegedly met with tragedy while camping at the Albert Pike Recreation Area of the Ouachita National Forest in Montgomery County, Ark., on June 11, 2010. Their group included 14-year-old KSB; his father, Shane Basinger; his stepmother, Kerri Basinger; their daughters, Jadyn and Kinsley; and four friends. They allegedly camped in Loop D, which was at the lowest elevation of any of the four campsites in the 100-year flood plain.

At 3 a.m., the Little Missouri River rose 3 feet and flooded their campground, according to the complaint.

KSB and his father allegedly sought refuge in the bed of a truck as water entered their tents. The rapidly rising waters pulled Shane Basinger into the river, and his last words to his son were to "save himself," according to the complaint.

A family friend allegedly boosted the boy into tree branches above the water and KSB watched as that friend was also swept to his death.

As KSB clung to the tree, he saw dead bodies passing below him and heard the cries of victims echoing through the campground, according to the complaint.

When day broke and the waters subsided, KSB allegedly helped recover the body of one of his friends.

The court file details a long history of flooding at Albert Pike dating back to 1940, including 13 flooding and severe weather events in the last decade. The 2010 flood allegedly claimed 20 lives.

Christy Pugh Basinger, who filed the suit on behalf of her son, says KSB still suffers from post-traumatic stress, nightmares, rages and insomnia.

The U.S. Forest Service should be held liable for placing campers in a dangerous flood-prone area and not warning them about the potential for flooding, according to the complaint.

It also allegedly failed to develop an evacuation plan.

Basinger also says the National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration failed to properly maintain a severe weather and flood warning system at Albert Pike.

The court file lists several communications problems including malfunctioning radio repeaters, a fallen broadcasting tower and a lack of cell reception that prevented campers from learning about the flood.

Basinger seeks damages for the physical, emotional and psychological injuries; medical and counseling expenses; and loss of affection and support by the wrongful death of KSB's father.

Roy Payne of Shreveport, La., represents the family.

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