River cleanup (copy)

A 2017 photo shows a Waco River Safari boat as it assisted with a river trash cleanup.

A Waco man who was injured when he fell into the Brazos River at McLane Stadium while waiting to board a tour boat has filed a lawsuit against Baylor University and Waco River Safari.

Damiun Stillwell, whose lawsuit says he is legally blind, is seeking more than $1 million in damages in his premises liability lawsuit, filed last week in Waco’s 414th State District Court.

Baylor spokesman Jason Cook and Waco River Safari owner Ryan Helm both said they were unaware of the lawsuit and declined comment Monday.

Houston attorney Marcus Spagnoletti, who represents Stillwell, also declined comment, saying the petition speaks for itself.

Stillwell, 43, and his wife were at Baylor’s McLane Stadium April 27 waiting to board the Waco River Safari boat for a “romantic river tour on the Brazos River.” Stillwell and his wife were walking onto the dock in front of the stadium when he stepped to the side to avoid a young boy walking by, according to the lawsuit.

While trying to avoid the boy, Stillwell fell over the side of the dock into the river.

“The location where plaintiff was required to board the vessel failed to have railings that would have prevented the incident,” the suit alleges.

Stillwell sank to the bottom of the river and blacked out when he struck the bottom, the suit claims. He suffered a fractured right leg and “severe injuries” to his left eye.

“His physical and psychological injuries have been severe, and medical treatment is currently ongoing,” the suit says.

The suit claims Waco River Safari was negligent for failing to warn patrons of the dangerous conditions on the dock; failing to limit the number of people allowed onto the dock at one time; and by failing to provide a safe ingress onto the vessel.

The lawsuit alleges a premises liability claim against Baylor because the Baptist university owns the property and the premises “posed an unreasonable risk of harm” and lacked adequate safeguards to prevent invitees from falling over the edge of the dock into the river below.

The lawsuit also charges that both defendants were negligent by violating provisions of the International Building Code as required by the state of Texas and a city of Waco ordinance that protect patrons from unsafe or inadequate conditions.

Stillwell seeks damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement and medical expenses.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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