2 Investigators: O’Hare Shelters Removed, After Paralyzing Accident

CHICAGO (CBS) — Her passion was dance. She dreamed of being a teacher and then tragedy struck. She was crushed by a falling shelter at O’Hare Airport. Because of CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini’s reports, the dangerous shelters were removed, but Tierney Darden will never walk again. She spoke to Dave Savini about her changed life.

“I cried when I read a bunch of these,” said Tierney Darden about a jar filled with get-well wishes, which gives her some comfort.

One card said, “I want to thank you for being my coach.”

Darden’s passion for dancing and dreams of teaching dance are now lost.

“That was everything to me. That was who I was,” said Darden.

In August 2015, a 750-pound O’Hare Airport shelter fell on Darden during a storm — crushing her.

“There was a sharp crack and numbness that went over my body and I immediately knew,” said Darden, who became paralyzed when her spinal cord was severed.

The shelter that fell on her was missing bolts and the majority of its ground mounts.

“It could have been avoided,” said Darden.  “It totally could have been avoided.”

It was the city’s job to maintain and repair those shelters. In the days following Darden’s tragedy, the 2-Investigators found other faulty shelters with missing bolts, bolts sticking out and corroded parts everywhere. One was missing 22 bolts and eight screws that were supposed to connect the shelter to the ground.

Darden filed a lawsuit and the 2-Investigators obtained records from the court file showing the City of Chicago is now admitting it committed, “wrongful conduct,” resulting in the shelter collapsing on Darden.

After our CBS 2 Investigation, all the shelters were removed. When CBS 2 asked to see all maintenance and repair records for these shelters, the Chicago Department of Aviation said they did not have any.

Darden, now 26, battles anxiety and reoccurring infections.

“Where I’m at, it scares me,” said Darden. “It’s mind-blowing how painful it is.”

Darden’s attorney, Jeff Kroll from Salvi, Schostok and Pritchard P.C., says a lawsuit against the City and Department of Aviation goes to court August 10th. The court document says since the city admitted it was negligent, all that is left is determining how much money Tierney Darden should get.

A Chicago Law Department spokesman says they cannot comment on pending litigation.

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