Family of drowned teen files wrongful death lawsuit
KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho — The family of a Coeur d’Alene teenager who died in a boating accident in 2015 has filed a lawsuit, claiming others were responsible for their child’s death.
16-year old Reggie Nault fell from a boat while out with friends on Lake Coeur d’Alene; his body was missing for nearly two weeks.
His family filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Kootenai County against the two boys Nault was with that day, along with two adults the family says purchased alcohol for the teenagers.
“As we all know, alcohol impairs us, and children it impairs more and it many cases profoundly. And that’s why we have laws against providing alcohol to kids,” said Leander James, the family’s attorney.
According to the lawsuit, Nault and his friends, all 16 years old, boarded the boat that July day with 12 to 18 beers. The suit alleges one of the teenagers was drinking and driving the boat; the suit says Nault and the other teenager were drinking as well.
“It’s a dangerous, dangerous, dangerous situation,” James said.
According to the lawsuit, the boys pulled into Shooters Bar and Grill that afternoon and tried to buy alcohol, but the server refused to sell it to them. The suit claims the boys then struck up a conversation with two people at the restaurant. As the boys were leaving, the suit claims those adults ordered a drink called a “Shooter sinker” which contained 12 shots of hard alcohol; the adults then gave the drink to Nault and his friends.
According to the lawsuit, all three teens drank the alcohol, which impaired their decision making and function.
After leaving Shooters, the boat sped away toward Arrow Point and reached speeds of up to 51 miles an hour. The suit says the other two boys knew Nault was going to enter the water and one of them “assumed the duty to be a spotter for Reggie to identify where Reggie might enter the water.” When Nault did go into the water, the suit claims the defendants “each failed to make reasonable efforts to prevent [him] from drowning.”
The suit discloses that the boys were recording on Snapchat. That Snapchat video allegedly recorded the speedometer showing the boat’s high rate of speed and Nault going into the water.
“Apparently there are witnesses who saw this video, but apparently it wasn’t preserved,” James said.
The suit also says that the boys’ first call when Nault didn’t resurface was not to 911, but to a girl who told them to call for help.
After calling 911, the suit claims the two boys “put their own self-interests above finding Reggie” and claims they hid and destroyed evidence and gave false statements about what happened. That includes lying about the speed of the boat, lying about drinking alcohol and deleting the Snapchat video.
“One would hope that if a boy goes off a boat into the water that everybody, including his friends, would have the first priority of trying to locate him,” James said.
The suit claims the boys and the adults who provided the alcohol should be held accountable for negligence, recklessness and wrongful death.
“The people involved, even the people the claims are against, they have an absolute right to give their testimony,” James said. “We want to hear it. We want to know what happened,” he said.
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