Arlington Citizen-Journal

Jury rules in favor of Camp Thurman in wrongful death suit

Camp Thurman in Pantego on April 7. A Tarrant County jury found that the youth camp was not negligent in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mothers of two children of Jeremy Gandy, who the camp says was trespassing when he fell to his death from a 30-foot zip line tower about five years ago.
Camp Thurman in Pantego on April 7. A Tarrant County jury found that the youth camp was not negligent in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mothers of two children of Jeremy Gandy, who the camp says was trespassing when he fell to his death from a 30-foot zip line tower about five years ago. Star-Telegram archives

A Tarrant County jury found that a popular adventure day camp was not negligent in the death of Jeremy Gandy, who went onto the property after hours almost five years ago and fell to his death from a 30-foot zip line tower.

The verdict in favor of Camp Thurman came after a trial that lasted for several days in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Monica Cooper and Erica Polo, the mothers of two of Gandy’s children.

They were seeking more than $1 million in damages for pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Gandy, 30, had a Euless address at the time of his death.

Kristina Kastl, an attorney representing Polo and Cooper, said her clients haven’t decided whether they will appeal the verdict.

“It was not easy for these ladies to initiate this lawsuit. We thought Camp Thurman would do the right thing,” Kastl said.

It was not easy for these ladies to initiate this lawsuit. We thought Camp Thurman would do the right thing.

Kristina Kastl, attorney who represented Monica Cooper and Erica Polo in the suit against Camp Thurman

Kastl said that the camp was negligent because safety measures and warning signs were not in place and that camp employees were aware that people routinely went onto the property after hours.

“The way [Camp Thurman] treated these young women was not Christian-like,” Kastl said, referring to the camp’s mission statement, which is “to provide for all ages safe, fun, wholesome outdoor programs, which demonstrate God’s love, while helping individuals discover who they are in Christ.”

Scott Self, an attorney who represented Camp Thurman, said Gandy and a woman trespassed onto the property early Dec. 26, 2011, by going through a back yard and climbing a split-rail fence that bordered the camp. The fence was close to the 30-foot tower, and Gandy climbed the tower using a rope ladder because a locked gate blocked the entrance to the stairs, Self said.

“We are very excited” about the verdict, he said. “Camp Thurman is obviously very thankful and grateful for the outcome.

“We believe that in this case that civil justice worked the way it was supposed to. A jury of 12 citizens vindicated Camp Thurman.”

Camp Thurman is on 14 acres near West Pioneer Parkway and offers a “fun in the woods” experience for children and adults.

A Tarrant County medical examiner’s report said that Gandy died of blunt-force trauma to the head and chest due to a fall from height. A toxicology report said Gandy had a high concentration of alcohol in his blood and urine. His blood-alcohol level was 0.198, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Elizabeth Campbell: 817-390-7696, @fwstliz

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