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More Details Emerge From Park City Parents Lawsuit Against Police Department And School District

As we’ve reported, Park City parent Robert Ainsworth has filed a lawsuit, alleging that City Police and the Park City School District withheld information that could have saved his son from a fatal opioid overdose, nearly three years ago.

The 44-page suit was filed in U.S. District Court, charging the governmental defendants with civil rights violations.

Ainsworth, in his litigation filed on July 2nd, said the defendants were responsible for a “state created danger” that led to the death of his 13-year-old son Ryan; injury for his 15-year-old brother, identified as “JA” and damages for Robert the father.

The suit lays out a timeline, leading up to events in mid-September of 2016. It alleges that the police department and school district became aware that Ryan and “JA” were part of a small group of Park City students that came in contact with the opioid U-47700, or “Pink” which had been ordered from China over the Dark Web.

Ainsworth says the defendants didn’t warn him that “Pink” is very dangerous, even in small doses or if touched, that its hazards weren’t well known at the time to adults, and youngsters falsely though it was harmless.

The litigation says that on August 30th of the year, “JA” and four other juveniles were detained by officers at the Best Buy, with a bottle of colorless liquid. It was later discovered to be Pink, but Ainsworth said he was told about a week later the bottle had Benadryl.

Officers became aware of the danger by at least September 3rd, when a Park City High student identified as C.S., suffered an overdose.

On September 11th, Ainsworth said he heard from his sons that their friend, 13-year-old Grant Seaver, had died, reportedly from “an asthma attack.” Right after, the police and school officials found from a computer search that Ryan and Grant had been in contact, relating to the use of Pink.

Ainsworth said that on the 12th, he and Ryan were called into a conference with Treasure Mountain Principal Emily Sutherland and Counselor Nicolai Jensen—both named as individual defendants in the suit.

Reportedly, the two school officials were emphatic that Ryan should go immediately to a hospital emergency room. The suit says the principal and counselor were distressed, and “their voices trembled with nervous tones” but they allegedly gave the impression their only concern was that Ryan might attempt suicide. The lawsuit claims school officials were instructed by Park City police not to discuss Ryan’s contact with the opioid.

The suit claims Robert took Ryan to the Park City Medical Center, but neither medical personnel nor Ainsworth were notified by the defendants about the danger of Pink.

Although Park City Police sent out a Community Drug Alert on the 12th, Ainsworth said he didn’t get a notice specifically directed to him.

Ainsworth said that on several occasions, he searched his home and sons’ belongings, he had both of them medically tested and had a long talk with JA, who had sustained an overdose the previous May.

The plaintiff said when he went to bed the night of the 12th, he believed his sons were not in any risk. The next morning, Ryan was discovered dead on the sofa.

The lawsuit also individually names Park City Lt. Darwin Little, who allegedly dissuaded Grant Seavers parents from telling Ainsworth that Ryan probably had some U-477000.

In a deposition quoted in the lawsuit, Lt. Little admitted to that and said, “I stopped an emotional parent calling and accusing another parent of doing something when it should be law enforcement’s responsibility to make those connections and contacts.”

The lawsuit has several different claims for damages. One of those is the loss of earnings by Ryan during his prospective lifetime. The suit says those damages should come to at least $2-$3 million “over the lifetime of a young man whose parents were both highly successful and highly educated.”

The suit is asking, among other things, that the court order the Police Department and School District to issue a public apology, and to establish new policies in their investigations.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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