DENVER -- A Salida commercial outfitter is being sued by the estate of a man who died during recreational rappelling in 2017 in Lake County.

The estate of Robert Gerald Hamric, who lived in Texas, claims employees of Wilderness Expeditions Inc. caused Hamric’s death because they allegedly were negligent when a mishap occurred.

The company denies being negligent and denies it is liable under any other legal theory.

The lawsuit was filed May 21 in Denver at the U.S. District Court for Colorado. Wilderness Expeditions filed its response Tuesday, July 30.

The incident, in which Hamric’s body became inverted and he experienced breathing difficulty, occurred near the Parry Peak Campground at an elevation of more than 9,000 feet, the lawsuit states. Wilderness Expeditions’ employees “failed to take appropriate actions” to return Hamric to an upright position and to rescue him, the 7-page lawsuit alleges. It also alleges the employees “delayed in contacting first responders.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that the company “was not authorized to conduct rappelling activities.” Hamric’s estate is asking for a jury to rule that Wilderness Expeditions was negligent and to order the company to pay the estate an unspecified amount of money to compensate for what happened.

In its response, the company states that Hamric “executed a liability release indicating that he agreed not to sue and assumed the risks of the activity,” as well as submitting a medical form indicating that he was medically cleared to participate in the activity.

“The liability release is valid and enforceable” under the law, Wilderness Expeditions asserts.

A court document submitted jointly by both sides states that potential witnesses may include emergency medical responders, law enforcement officers and the coroner, as well as the company’s owner, several guides, other participants in the rappelling, and Hamric’s widow.

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