Suit: Woman paralyzed after O'Hare pedestrian shelter collapses

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -- An O’Hare Airport pedestrian shelter collapsed and left a 24-year-old woman paralyzed and her mother and sister injured as they waited for a ride home on Aug. 2, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.

The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court against the city of Chicago and its Department of Aviation, claiming both were negligent for not maintaining the shelter.

About 2:40 p.m. Aug. 2, Tierney Darden, Trudy Darden and Tayah Minniefield claim they had just returned from Minneapolis and were waiting for a ride home near the shelter on a lower level street that accesses Terminal 2, at vestibule 2C.

As a storm rolled through the area, the shelter became loose and fell on the three women, according to the suit and a statement from Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., the law firm representing the family.

The shelter was “visibly rusted, decaying” and not properly attached to the ground, the suit claims.

The collapse “severely” injured all three and severed Tierney Darden’s spinal cord, leaving the Mundelein woman paralyzed from waist down, according to the suit and the law firm.

Tierney Darden is a student at Chicago’s Truman State University and enjoyed dancing, the attorney’s statement said.

“Tierney’s life will never be the same because of the airport’s and city’s failure to protect her,” said Tara Devine, a partner with Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., in the statement. “She will never be able to use her legs to dance, which was one of her passions. We will be looking into the safety and maintenance of the pedestrian shelters, as we do not want to see any other travelers seriously injured like this.”

The suit claims the city and the aviation department should have known that the shelter needed maintenance.

The city’s law department had not been served with the suit as of Friday evening, spokesman John Holden said. The Dept. of Aviation did not immediately return a call for comment.

Among its claims, the 12-count suit charges the city and the aviation department with negligence and is asking for more than $600,000 damages.

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