Claim lodged in Arizona mine death

KINGMAN, Ariz. — A Las Vegas attorney has filed a near $14 million claim alleging that the state of Arizona is liable in the death of a teenager and the injury of her sister in their 120-foot plunge into an abandoned mine in September.

Bradley L. Booke brought the action on behalf of Caroline Booker, the natural mother of the girls involved in the Sept. 1 incident in Arizona.

The notice of claim indicates that a lawsuit can be avoided for an out-of-court settlement of $13.9 million for expenses and suffering associated with the death of Rikki Jean Howard, 13, and injuries suffered by Casie Rae Hicks, who was 10 at the time of the accident during an off-road excursion over the Labor Day weekend.

As had previously been outlined by the Mohave County sheriff’s office, the claim asserts that the girls were riding a three-wheeled ATV, following their stepfather, Allen Dakin, who was riding a motorcycle in the area of Windy Point Ridge near the community of Chloride. The mine shaft, some 12 feet in diameter, had already swallowed up the girls when Dakin discovered he could no longer see them trailing him shortly after 3:30 p.m.

Dakin was unable to find the girls. Search and rescue teams also were unsuccessful during an overnight operation. Casie’s cries for help led searchers to the Brighter Days Mine about 6 o’clock the next morning.

It took several more hours for a rappelling team to bring Rikki’s body and the injured Casie out of the mine shaft.

Casie suffered multiple fractures, required surgery and spent five days in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit of University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

The claim said she spent seven days more at UMC before beginning rigorous rehabilitation that continues today.

The claim indicates Casie, her mother and family have suffered and that the state of Arizona is to blame.

“The State had full legal authority and responsibility to fence, otherwise barricade and/or warn about the open mine shaft,” the claim states.

The notice of claim has been lodged with the state, the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources and the State of Arizona Mine Inspector.

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