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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Photographer sues EWU after hammer throw hits leg

Ron Swords photographs the action during the second half of a college football game between Eastern Washington and Portland State on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A contract photographer has sued Eastern Washington University after he suffered a serious leg injury in 2015 when a collegiate athlete threw a hammer during a track and field competition and the ball and chain struck the photographer in the leg as he was attempting to capture images of the event.

Ronald Swords, who was reluctant to talk about the lawsuit when contacted by The Spokesman-Review, had been hired by EWU to photograph the Pelluer Invitational on April 11, 2015, at Roos Field in Cheney.

Crews marked the lines of the hammer event with flags. Swords set up his camera just outside one of the flagged-sector lines and began photographing the hammer-throwing attempt by Montana’s Carlie Jessop, according to the suit filed earlier this month.

Swords “did not see the path of the hammer and was unable to avoid it because he was taking photographs of Ms. Jessop,” wrote Swords’ attorney, Evan Schneider. “As a result of said incident, plaintiff suffered severe personal injuries and damages.”

Schneider did not return messages to his office seeking comment. State attorneys Carl Warring and Heidi Holland, who represent EWU, could not be reached for comment.

In the lawsuit, Swords is seeking compensation for injuries, pain and emotional distress, for past and future medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity. Schneider wrote that the jury will deteremine the amount Swords seeks at trial.

The case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge James Triplet.