Maui Firefighter’s Mother Sues Captain Over LODD

The mother of a Maui firefighter who died after being caught in a storm drain last year, has filed suit against his company officer claiming his decision-making led to her son’s death. Chelsie Evans filed suit in Maui County Circuit Court naming Fire Captain Scott Martin, and 10 unnamed defendants.

Tre’ Evans-Dumaran was fatally injured on January 27, 2023, when he was sucked into a storm drain opening that was missing a grate. The incident occurred during heavy flooding. Evans-Dumaran travelled over 1300 feet through the drain and ended up in the ocean. Despite being rescued, he succumbed to his injuries on February 4, 2023.

The complaint accuses Captain Martin with wrongful death, recklessness, and willful and wanton misconduct. Quoting from the complaint:

  • On or about January 27, 2023, Defendant MARTIN ordered Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN and one other firefighter to go with Defendant MARTIN to the area near the storm drain channel headwall.
  • Defendant MARTIN did not take the required full firefighting crew.
  • Defendant MARTIN gave the order to go to the area near the storm drain channel headwall, although there was no imminent risk of harm to life or property.
  • Although there was no imminent risk of harm to life or property, Defendant MARTIN ordered Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN to leave the protection of the fire truck, and enter into the water ponding near the storm drain channel headwall.
  • Defendant MARTIN ordered Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN to leave the protection of the fire truck, and enter into the water ponding near the storm drain channel headwall, without any protection, such as flotation devices or being tied by rope to the fire truck.
  • In making the above orders, including ordering Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN to leave the protection of the fire truck without adequate safety equipment or protections, Defendant MARTIN knew he was violating the duties, obligations, responsibilities and common sense required of him as Decedent’s supervisor and was therefore irresponsible as a supervisor through demonstrated lack of proper caution that intentionally or recklessly ignored the foreseeable consequences.
  • Prior to January 27, 2023, Defendant knew that the MAUI FIRE DEPARTMENT had issued swift water rescue bags, “PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT” or other equipment to protect firefighters responding to situations or incidents involving flood waters.
  • Prior to January 27, 2023, Defendant knew that he could request Water Safety Equipment and specialized department technical rescue resources, if Water Safety Equipment were not in a fire truck or fire department response vehicle.
  • Because of Defendant MARTIN’s wanton and willful misconduct conduct, Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN fell into the storm drain water as he was walking in an unprotected area next to the
  • Kulanihakoi storm drain channel head wall after a section of chain link fencing had been removed.
  • After Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN fell into the storm drain channel water, he was sucked into the storm drain opening below that was missing the grate.
  • Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN then traveled 1,350 feet through the storm drainpipe into a spillway and was rescued 40 to 50-feet offshore in the ocean.
  • Decedent EVANS-DUMARAN later passed away due to the injuries resulting from the above.

Hawaii News Now quoted Evans as saying:

  • It’s been really hard. It’s taken a year because I’ve tried to sit in the space of, would he be frustrated with me for doing this because he loved his firefighter family. He absolutely loved his firefighter family. That’s a double-edged sword because I do this to fight for his firefighter family. And yet, it’s against some of the people in this firefighter family.
  • Very risky decisions without being held accountable. And we do believe that’s what led to Tre’s death, was a history of really risky decisions that did not need to be made, that were allowed for such a long time and not kept in check. Therefore, leading to bad decisions to Tre’s death.
  • The decision that I have to make is as his mom. And as his mom, I fought my entire life to protect him. And I couldn’t protect him in this case. But I have to try to protect anyone else who might be in this space. I’ve lost him already. I don’t ever have a chance to hug him again.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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