Bothell Denies Trestle-Death Claim

The city has denied a $ 1 million claim filed by the parents of Michael Schuerhoff, a high-school senior who died in January when he was pushed from an abandoned trestle within the city limits. The trestle was a known teen hangout but had no railings or fencing. The family's attorney is investigating whether the city and King County, which owns the trestle, failed to adequately restrict access to the bridge. City officials denied the claim without comment. The Schuerhoff family also has filed a claim against King County, but attorney William Marler had not determined whether the two governments would ultimately be sued.

Clearly, Marler said, the party most responsible is the person who shoved Schuerhoff from the trestle. The family already has filed a wrongful-death suit against Brian Schrader, 18, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder but since has withdrawn that plea.

Authorities say the push was prompted by a bet with friends who were also at the trestle but did not call for help when Schuerhoff disappeared in the waters of the Sammamish Slough. The Schuerhoff family is also suing four other teens who were on or near the trestle that night. In a criminal case, Tyler Wheaton pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance. Steven Garza, Larry Edinger and Ben Drake were tried for manslaughter and acquitted. The family has named them all in a lawsuit expected to go to trial next year.

"No amount of money is ever going to make this right," Marler said. "The bottom line is that the family feels very strongly that the people who perpetrated this crime, or failed to act responsibly when they knew someone was in danger, be held responsible."