A Washington teenager has learned a valuable life lesson the hard, and very expensive, way.
On Monday, a Vancouver, Washington 16-year-old was ordered to pay over $36 million in restitution to cover the massive damages caused when the youth tossed fireworks on to a hiking trail. The teen was ordered to the damages by an Oregon judge because the fire initially began on the Eagle Creek trail in Oregon. The incident occurred on September 2, 2017, when the teen and a group of his friends were on the trail playing with fireworks. One of the tossed fireworks ignited a flame that later spurned multiple fires in both Oregon and Washington, burning over 48,000 acres and destroying some of the nation’s most prized wildlife areas.
The teen appeared at the Thursday hearing with his lawyer who called the total amount of restitution “absurd”. Because he is a minor, the youth is not being named publicly but his lawyer, Jack Morris, said that the massive fine was in direct violation of both the United States and Oregon constitutions, protecting citizens from excessive fines. The Hood River County Circuit Court Judge John A. Olson stated in this opinion that the fine did not violate any laws because the damages brought down do not even exceed the total financial damages caused by the teen’s reckless actions. The only option given to the convicted youth is to set up a payment schedule through the Hood River Juvenile Department. In addition to the fees totaling over $36 million, the teen was also sentenced to 1,920 hours of community service and five years or probation during his initial hearing last February.
The $36 million in restitution is earmarked for a variety of organizations and businesses hurt by the wildfire including Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Transportation, US Forest Service, Union Pacific Railroad, Allstate Insurance, and many more.