River Parks Authority being sued by family of priest killed in bicycle crash
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Saturday, May 12, 2012
5/12/12 at 5:25 AM
The children of an 88-year-old retired Episcopal priest who died last year are suing the River Parks Authority and the father of a boy who allegedly rode a bicycle into him on an Arkansas River trail.
The Rev. George Bogdanich died June 8 from injuries he suffered May 31 when he was hit while walking in River Parks near 24th Street, the lawsuit says.
Bogdanich's children, Lee Clack and James Sanders, accuse the bicyclist's father of negligence and claim that the river trails are poorly designed and do not have appropriate safety warnings.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Tulsa County District Court, demands unspecified actual and punitive damages and requests that a jury hear the case.
"The reason that this suit is brought is to try to help others in our community and make sure that it does not happen again," attorney William O'Connor said.
"When you're walking on the river trail, you shouldn't be at risk of losing your life."
The lawsuit claims that Nathan DeFord and his son were racing on their bicycles when the boy lost control of his bike shortly before 8:30 p.m. and ran into Bogdanich.
Court filings do not give the boy's age, but O'Connor described him as "grade-school age."
DeFord did not immediately respond to the Tulsa World's requests for comment.
A Tulsa Police Department records clerk said Friday that she could not find a police report on the collision.
Medics with the Emergency Medical Services Authority, which does not comment on the circumstances of its patients' injuries, are the only first-responders mentioned in the lawsuit's narrative of the incident.
O'Connor said a central argument of the lawsuit is that the bicycle paths in River Parks are too close to pedestrian paths and that signs do not adequately warn trail users of the danger.
Near 24th Street, the trail is between 18 and 20 feet wide and has separate bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
It was completed in 2008 as part of a $15 million renovation of the Arkansas River trail system. Other sections of the trail have separate 10-foot paths for bicyclists and pedestrians.
River Parks Authority Executive Director Matt Meyer was on vacation Friday and said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he had not yet reviewed it.
River Parks Authority officials told the Tulsa World in June that it was the first serious accident on the trails since the 2008 renovations.
Clack and Sanders did not immediately respond to the Tulsa World's requests for comment, but they told the newspaper in June that their father walked in River Parks for two to three hours each day and considered it his sanctuary.
According to the lawsuit, the collision broke Bogdanich's ribs, collapsed his lung, damaged his spleen and resulted in a hematoma, or a collection of blood, in his lower back.
He was removed from a medical ventilator after doctors determined that he would not recover, according to the lawsuit.
An obituary published June 12 in the Tulsa World says Bogdanich was born in Turkey in 1923, graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1951 and received his master's of divinity degree from Yale University.
He became a U.S. citizen in 1965.
Original Print Headline: Priest's survivors sue River Parks board
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
The Rev. George Bogdanich: The 88-year-old retired priest died in June from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a bicycle while walking in River Parks. Bogdanich's children are suing the River Parks Authority and the father of a boy who allegedly rode the bike into him.