The annual St. Patrick's Day celebration in Savannah, Georgia, began on a very somber note Friday. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a 57-year-old tourist was killed when he fell 40 feet from the top of a stairway on what appears to be city property.
Authorities have not said what caused the fall that killed this man. He fell from the top of a stairway down onto the stone-paved promenade called Factors' Walk. The promenade is at the bottom of a steep bluff, near the city's historic riverfront.
The man, who is from Nicholasville, Kentucky, reportedly fell over a handrail on the steps. It is not clear from the news report whether this staircase was in fact city or park property, though it appears that it likely was public property of some sort.
Savannah's famous St. Patrick's Day celebration takes place all weekend long and the riverfront area in the downtown historic area is a popular area for bar-goers. Police have not said whether the victim of this fall was visiting Savannah for the St. Patrick's Day festivities.
While it is not yet clear what caused this man's untimely fall to death, it will be important for investigators to study whether the stairs and the handrail were properly maintained. If not, the man's surviving family members may be able to hold the owner or manager of the property financially accountable. Certainly, everyone has a responsibility to always watch their step, but nonetheless property owners have a responsibility to keep their properties free from hazards that could contribute to tragedies such as this.
If negligence was a factor in this man's fall, his family could potentially recover funeral costs, as well as lost income and damages for pain and suffering through wrongful death or premises liability litigation. This will not ease their emotional anguish, but it will help to mitigate the financial difficulties incurred by such a tragedy.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Savannah tourist dies in fall," March 16, 2012