Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Boardwalk fire victims see some money from state

August 10, 2006


The state has paid nearly $70,000 so far to people injured in the deadly fire last fall at Boardwalk Apartments through a program that helps defray medical costs and lost wages for violent-crime victims.

Eli Greenbaum, who broke his ankles after jumping out of a window during the Oct. 7 fire, said he might have had to declare bankruptcy if it weren't for the money from the state's Crime Victims' Compensation Board. The board paid $14,924 for his medical bills and lost wages, including a $3,812 bill from University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

"I'm already in debt from financial aid from my Ph.D. This would have just been a huge additional burden," said Greenbaum, who is now a post-doctoral researcher at Villanova University.

At the time of the fire, Greenbaum had student health insurance through KU, which paid 80 percent of his costs.

"After all the doctor's visits and hospital stays and ambulance rides and surgery, we're still talking about a substantial amount of money that was not covered by the KU student health insurance," he said.

One woman who was burned in the fire received the maximum that can be paid under the state program, $25,000. Her bills included a $14,000 bill from KU Med and a $4,680 bill from LifeStar, the air ambulance service.

The victims' compensation program, which was started in the late 1970s, is administered by the Kansas Attorney General's Office. It pays out about $3 million per year, which comes largely from criminals' fines, court-ordered restitution and a cut of wages taken from state prison inmates.

"It's all offender-based," said Frank Henderson, the board's executive director.

Figures weren't available Wednesday to show how the Boardwalk Fire compared with payments made by the state in other violent crimes. But the fire caused serious injuries or death to more people than any other Lawrence crime in recent years.

Victims have up to two years to file a claim. The program doesn't cover property losses, and it covers only what was not paid for through insurance or some other source.

It's possible more victims still will come forward to file a claim. One thing covered by the program is funeral expenses, but Henderson said none of the families of the three people killed in the fire have come forward to seek payment of those costs.

More information about the program is available by calling (785) 296-2359.

Jason A. Rose, the man charged with setting the fire, is scheduled to stand trial in February.


craigers 11 years, 10 months ago

That's great. I hope you all can move on past this tragic event.

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