Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Court case won't bring family back

Negligence and responsibility could be at the center of a legal battle in Washington County this fall as a wrongful death lawsuit unfolds in the courts.

At issue is whether the four members of a Hillsboro family who perished in Henry Hagg Lake near Gaston two years ago this August were responsible for their own drownings — or whether the county demonstrated negligence in not warning visitors of a hazardous drop-off near the popular Sain Creek Picnic Area on the lake’s east side.

If a settlement is not reached beforehand, attorneys for the county and for the surviving family members will likely talk about the presence or absence of life jackets and the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of warning signs.

The plaintiff’s lawyers will likely bring up drownings or near-drownings of other people in the same spot in years preceding the 2014 tragedy.

The County’s lawyers will likely suggest the victims should have taken water-safety lessons.

The two sides will point fingers back and forth, and a jury will eventually have to decide whether or not to award the plaintiff, Maria Garcia — sister, aunt and daughter of the dead — the requested $250,000 in damages for each of the four who were lost.

But none of it will bring back Jova Ixtacua Castano, 42; Gabriela Garcia Ixtacua, 25; Michael Xavier Garcia, 13; and Jeremy Taylor Scholl, 3. As we’ve reported in this newspaper, the four family members apparently died trying

to keep each other from going under.

And that’s the biggest tragedy of all.