Family Of Fallen Aggie Reacts to A&M Bonfire Settlement

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

Nearly nine years after the tragic Bonfire collapse, a multi-million dollar agreement is reached between Texas A&M and the victims' families.

It took a judge only five minutes to sign off on the $2.1 million settlement to be paid out to nine plaintiffs.

A&M has also agreed that if Bonfire is ever allowed on campus again, new safety measures would be put in place.

The first glimpse of Aggie Bonfire that Chad Powell's parents, Greg and Jill, ever got was the clean-up efforts after the collapse.

"Utter disbelief, that a project like that was being conducted in the manner that it was," Greg Powell said. "Not knowing anything about bonfire, we assumed it was a safe student activity to be involved in."

The Powell's son, Chad, was killed when the giant stack of logs came crashing down. They've dedicated nearly the last decade of their lives making sure nothing like this happens again.

"It was not our goal to eliminate bonfire. Our goal was to make sure if it happened again, that it would be done safely," Powell said.

Nine years later, judgment day has arrived for the Powells.

"The way of the settlement calls for Texas A&M, in this case, the defense, to pay the gross sum of two million dollars to all the plaintiffs," an attorney for the plaintiff's said.

But for the Powell's, their fight is far from over...

"We still have other professionals we need to hold accountable in the courts, and if A&M thinks we're gone, no, I'm sorry we'll be around for a while," Powell said.

Chad's memory lives on in a tribute to the fallen 12. But Chad's parents hope the lessons learned from the tragic day will last a lifetime.

"We are going to make sure nobody has to stand on the grounds of a bonfire and say 'what has happened?' again," Powell said.

Texas A&M still remains a third party defendant in ongoing litigation with a construction company. But Tuesday the University released the following statement: "The University regrets that the student activity known as 'Bonfire' grew into a massive project without adequate design and construction supervision by an engineering professional and pledges to do all that it can to prevent any future loss of life associated with a student activity."

Texas A&M President Elsa Murano also issued a statement stating that she will make no decision about the future of Bonfire until she has time to learn more about the issue over the next several months.

Of that $2.1 million awarded to the plaintiff's A&M officials say the University will pay $500,000 with the remaining balance to be paid by insurance companies.

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