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Parents Sue Over Tragic Hiking Death

(CN) - The parents of a college student who slipped and fell to his death off a steep cliff near Yosemite National Park claim their son died because of "a concealed trap" that California negligently maintained, according to a lawsuit in Orange County Court.

Christopher and Lisa Broderick sued the California, the state Department of Transportation, its alter ego Caltrans, Mariposa County, The Fischer Family 1993 Trust and The Prange Trust in Orange County Court.

Details about Ryan Broderick's death on April 30, 2010, were widely reported. The Mariposa Gazette reported that Broderick was traveling to Yosemite with friends when they stopped along Highway 140 to look at scenery. When Broderick got to the end of a culvert, where concrete extends above the rocky area below, he lost his footing on the wet slab and fell 50 feet.

The Mariposa Sherriff's Department pronounced him dead at the scene, just three days before Broderick's 21st birthday.

His parents claim the property had "latent and concealed perils," and that their son was "not aware of the dangers," in part because of "the steep cliff approaching shortly after exciting the culvert tunnel," the "slippery surface outside the tunnel" and "the lack of barriers."

They claim The Fischer Family Trust and The Prange Trust are legal owners of this property and "responsible for the condition ... surrounding and in close proximity to the walkway, tunnel and culvert."

California and the other defendants "owed a duty to the general public" to "maintain the...property in a reasonably safe condition," but that they "created/contributed to the dangerous conditions as the culvert ... created a cliff below, and erosion over the years further changed the condition of the ... property over time," according to the complaint.

The Brodericks seek unspecified damages, alleging dangerous condition of public property and premises liability negligence. They are represented by Geoffrey Wells with Greene Broillet & Wheelers of Santa Monica, Calif.

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