Mysterious Death Leads to Complex Investigation and Wrongful Death Lawsuit | Law Firm Newswire

Mysterious Death Leads to Complex Investigation and Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Austin Personal Injury Lawyers

Austin Personal Injury Lawyers - Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) August 27, 2015 – Stephanie Gurney fell to her death from the side of a communications tower that she was climbing. She was trying out for a job with a tower maintenance company.

“This is an unusual case,” said Brooks Schuelke, a personal injury wrongful death attorney in Austin, with the firm Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC. “Apparently, the deceased was climbing a communications tower as part of a trial to see if her climbing abilities would land her a job with Jostan Communications. She was with her boyfriend and the prospective employer the day of her death.”

Gurney had never climbed before, and 40-year-old Joseph Grimes, her potential employer, allegedly spent time on the ground going over how to use a safety harness. Grimes climbed the tower in question first and when he came back down, he got on his cell phone. It was then that he heard a scream and heard Gurney hit the ground.

A sheriff’s deputy responded 25 minutes after the 911 call. By the time the police arrived, an ambulance was leaving the scene and heading to the nearest medical facility. Gurney was pronounced dead at the hospital.

During the course of the investigation into the sudden death, the Sheriff’s Deputy questioned Grimes about the safety harness used that day. Evidently Grimes looked at the the harness the victim had used and stated that the safety hook was not secured properly. When he went to hook it up the right way, the Deputy said he had to leave it as they had found it as it was evidence.

The investigation dragged on until the fall when the death was ruled a tragic accident by the Sheriff’s office. Gurney’s mother was not satisfied with the investigation or the ruling and sought legal counsel to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

“There are some questions begging answers in this case,” said Schuelke. “Although I am not involved in it, one of the questions I would want an answer to was whether or not Grimes had authorization to use the communications tower that day.” Case evidence points to extreme security on the land accessing the tower, including two sets of gates and two stamped padlocks with the tower owner’s name emblazoned on them. The tower owner said they did not know who Jostan Communications is and Grimes states he does not know who leases the tower in question.

According to the police report Grimes would not answer the question of whether or not he was authorized to be on that site, stating that information was being “held off.”

“The pressing question here relates to negligence. On the face of this case, it appears there was negligence involved on the part of Grimes, who was possibly trespassing on a secure communications site and who may not have properly checked Gurney’s safety harness before she began her test climb,” Schuelke said. “Wrongful death lawsuits often involve negligence in some form and are not about seeking revenge, but about seeking compensation to move forward with a shattered life.”

The case gets even more difficult to understand, as no one can find out who leases space on the tower, what Grimes was doing there that day and why he was there in the first place as he had no contracts to work on that tower. It may become a case without any named defendants other than Grimes.

Schuelke Law PLLC
3011 N. Lamar Blvd
Ste. 200
Austin, TX 78705
Call (512) 476-4944


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