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Family awarded $1.5 million after civil trial

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

A jury found a Denver company guilty of negligence Wednesday in connection with a 2008 boat explosion that killed a teen boy.

The 12-member jury unanimously reached the verdict following an hour of deliberation in a Lincoln County courtroom.

Prior to deliberating, attorneys from both sides provided closing arguments, neither of them disputing the fact that Nathan Coppick, the Denver teen who perished in the boat blaze, was loved by his community and was “special” and bound for a successful future.

As a result of the decision, Petroleum Equipment and Service, Inc., is required to pay $1.5 million in damages to Coppick’s family.

The 19-year-old North Carolina State University student and dockhand at Hobbs Westport Marina in Denver was refueling a yacht on his day off when the blast occurred.

He had been hired by the vessel owner to aid in taking a party of high school students on a tour of Lake Norman on June 10, 2008.

Following the fatal explosion, the victim’s parents sued PES for installing illegal nozzles on the floating fuel dock’s pumps where the incident occurred.

PES tried to claim they didn’t install the nozzles on the final day of the trial — the first time such a claim had been made in the nearly five-year-old case.

The nozzles were also against state fire and building code, but the defense argued that Nathan Coppick exhibited negligence in the incident, walking away from the pump during fueling without asking another employee to watch the dispenser.

The verdict was reached more than two weeks after the trial began at the end of March.

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