Firefighter recruit's family files suit against Frederick Co.

March 10, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

The parents of a 23-year-old Gettysburg, Pa., man who died from heat exhaustion while on a training run for Frederick County fire service recruits filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the county and several members of its emergency services division yesterday.

Gaithersburg attorney Kenneth M. Berman said filing a lawsuit was a last resort for James and Shirley Waybright, whose son Andrew J. Waybright collapsed and died in July 2002 after a morning of rigorous calisthenics, sprints and a four-mile run in hot and humid conditions.

His temperature upon arriving at Frederick Memorial Hospital 30 minutes after he passed out was 107 degrees, according to hospital records.

"They hope to gain some closure, and because they were not wealthy folks by any shape or form, they hope for money to continue to run their farm," said Berman, who added that Andrew Waybright was his father's main helper on the farm. "Although that's never going to make up for the loss of their son, it will help their economic situation."

Despite findings from a Frederick County board of inquiry and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health that human error was to blame for putting Andrew Waybright in a life-threatening situation, Berman said his parents never received a formal apology from the Frederick County Fire and Rescue division.

John L. Thompson Jr., president of the Board of County Commissioners, declined to comment, saying it was a personnel matter and noting the pending litigation. County Attorney John S. Mathias said the county had not been served with lawsuit papers yet. He said that there had been correspondence between the county and the Waybrights, but he declined to elaborate.

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