SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State University has agreed to caution students about how to keep others safe while using slack lines as part of a settlement reached in a wrongful-death lawsuit lodged by the family of a college student who was killed in August 2013 when he hit a slack line tied between two trees while biking on campus, a university official said Friday.
The parents of Eric Anderson said they are pleased the lawsuit raised awareness about the dangers of slack lines and lead to policy changes. He was riding down a hill wearing sunglasses in the early evening on the first day of school when he slammed into a chest-high slack line used for people to practice their balance, said his father, Carvel Anderson.
“There’s no chance he could have seen it,” Carvel Anderson said. “We’re not trying to eliminate slack lining. We just want to be a little more cautious about this.”
Financial terms of the settlement, signed on April 26, are confidential, said family attorney Ricky Shelton and Utah State University spokesman Tim Vitale. The family was asking for $2 million in damages. Vitale confirmed what Utah agreed to do about slack line safety.
The university has agreed to include safety information about slack lines during orientation and on the school website. It will also provide free cones to help mark slack lines on campus, Vitale said.
“It was just an exceptionally tragic situation at so many levels,” Vitale said. “We welcome making these changes.”
The Herald Journal newspaper in Logan first reported the settlement.
Eric Anderson was a trumpet player in the university marching band who went from being a shy teenager to coming into his own after serving a Mormon mission in Michigan and going to study music at Utah State University, Carvel Anderson said.
His mother Gayle Anderson said nothing can fill the void left by his death, but was pleased the school took action.
“I feel very much at peace because it’s raised a lot of awareness about this whole safety issue with slack lines,” she said
The lawsuit said the three students who put up the slack line should have taken it down when they finished and that university did not put up any barriers to protect cyclists or pedestrians from slack lines.
The three students were dismissed from the lawsuit.
Carvel Anderson said he and his wife never blamed the students and feel terrible for them as well. He said the three students came to their house in West Jordan after their son’s funeral and apologized and spent an hour with the family.
“We hugged and we cried and we chatted,” Carvel Anderson said.
State attorneys representing the university said in a 2014 court filing that the incident may have been caused by the slack line not being properly marked but also mentioned that Anderson was riding his bike fast with defective brakes.
“A convergence of factors caused a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Vitale. “We will implement these safety measures and hope the incident doesn’t repeat itself.”