$1 Million Claim in Death of 9-year-old Boy Under Review
On Monday night a legislative subcommittee awarded the Nelson family of Bentonville $1 million in the loss of their 9-year-old son to a soccer-goal accident.
But now the claim against the Arkansas Department of Human Services is on hold, because it has to be approved by the Joint Budget Committee.
“This was supposed to be all said and done, and it`s coming off as though that the state doesn`t want to pay what it owes,” said Nathan Nelson, the father of Jonathan Nelson, who died two years ago when a soccer goal fell on him.
Fourth grader Jonathan Nelson died after a non-anchored, homemade soccer goal fell on him at Elm Tree Elementary school in Bentonville in 2011, records show.
The Nelson’s attorney, Sean Keith, said since there was a licensed daycare facility at the school, the human services department has to certify certain playground areas to make sure they are safe.
Nelson said, “When they inspect a playground and certify it for use, it should be safe.”
The Department of Human Services said the child was not at a facility that they were overseeing.
“The accident that killed Johnathan Nelson was a tragedy,” said Amy Webb, department spokeswoman. “At the time, he was in the custody of his local school district not any programs licensed or run by DHS nor in any area inspected or licensed by DHS.”
The Nelsons said they have been to numerous hearings and testimonies over the last two years.
“Every time we go through this process and go down to Little Rock it’s like living that day that he was killed and the week and the days after all over again, and it drags up all these emotions. Its hell,” Nelson said. “Ultimately, what we are trying to do is fight for all the other kids that are potentially not safe, and like I said Monday night, fight for my son who`s not here to fight for himself.”
While these legal issues continue for the Nelsons, they said they won`t give up the fight for their son, who they say was bright, energetic and sweet.
“Sometimes there was this calm peace about him. He had the biggest heart,” Nelson said.
The Nelsons have started an organization called Jonathan’s Play Safe to advocate for safe playground equipment.