SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — A federal magistrate judge says the National Park Service purposely destroyed evidence in the wrongful death case of a 9-year-old boy who fell to his death from a crumbling retaining wall in a Northern California Park.

Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows ruled Wednesday that park service officials purposely destroyed the retaining wall before investigators could examine it.

As punishment, he recommended that the judge overseeing the case formally find the park service negligent in the death of Tommy Botell. Such a finding by U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell would give a big boost to the Botell’s family lawsuit.

Botell fell to his death in July 2009 in Lassen Volcanic National Park when the retaining wall he was sitting on gave way. His sister was also injured.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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