SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – The parents of a 15-year-old boy who was killed last November while handling a “prop” pistol during a school production of “Oklahoma!” say police and school officials were responsible for their son’s death.
Ron and Cathie Thayer sued the city of St. George, school resource police officer Stacy Richan, the Washington County School District, theater teacher Michael Eaton, Assistant Principal Robert Goulding and gun owner David Amodt.
The Thayers’ son, Tucker, had been a stage technician in the Desert Hills High School’s production of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic “Oklahoma!”
“Possibly to give the production a sense of realism and drama, Mr. Eaton decided to use a real handgun in the play, but not as an on-stage prop,” the Thayers claim in Federal Court. “Mr. Eaton wanted to actually fire a handgun, loaded with a blank round, in the theater as a sound effect.”
Eaton received Richan’s clearance to use a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber six-shot revolver and blanks at the rehearsals and performances, despite school policy that stipulates the prop could only be handled by an adult, the lawsuit states. The gun belonged to Amodt, whose daughter was the student stage manager.
The gun and blanks were left unattended in a lockbox, and Tucker, who knew the combination to the lock, was left unsupervised as he handled the gun, the parents claim.
Several hours before a Nov. 15 performance, Tucker was struck in the head with a blank. He died later that night.
“The conduct of each of the defendants shows carelessness or recklessness to a degree that shows utter indifference to the consequences that may result,” his parents claim.
They demand actual and punitive damages, and are represented by Jeffrey Wilcox of Gallian Wilcox.