Woman in Yosemite Hantavirus lawsuit shares her story

May 2, 2013 12:35:52 AM PDT
We're hearing for the first time from one of the victims of last summer's Hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite National Park. A Southern California woman has filed a lawsuit in excess of $3 million against the park's concessionaire.

The lawsuit was first filed in Mariposa County but has now been moved to federal court in Fresno.

Cathy Carrillo of Chino Hills was among the nine confirmed cases of people who became ill with the Hantavirus. Three of them died.

"It was very scary because when I first got out of there I couldn't move at all," said Cathy. "I was actually like paralyzed."

Cathy was flanked by her attorneys and her tearful husband Joe Carrillo in Pasadena. Cathy came down with flu-like symptoms three weeks after she stayed at the signature tent cabins at Yosemite National Park's Curry Village last June. She said the effects of the rodent-borne Hantavirus left her unable to walk.

"I couldn't talk at all," said Cathy. "I had a speech therapist."

The lawsuit against Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Yosemite claims the defendants acted in a conscious and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others. It's believed campers became infected with the Hantavirus by coming into contact with droppings, urine or saliva of deer mice inside the cabins.

Attorney Mark Algorri said, "The fact they knew about it, really didn't warn about it. The Carrillos went up there, been up there, never knew this problem existed. It was really kept on the down low."

Delaware North says it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation. But adds the double wall tent cabins involved in the outbreak have been replaced by single wall cabins so mice can't hide between walls. The lawsuit lists damages of $3.25 million. But Algorri says he expects a jury to reach an even higher figure.

Algorri said, "I think it's abundantly clear the defendant was negligent."

Cathy says she still suffers from fatigue and diminished lung capacity. She adds it's been especially tough for her husband and kids.

The next move for this Yosemite Hantavirus lawsuit is the scheduling conference. It is set for July 23rd in U.S. district court in Fresno.

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