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Archive for Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mother of student injured in fall reads statement as part of settlement

The KU student who fell from a rooftop in 2004 suffered severe brain injuries and has no chance for recovery. That was part of a statement read by Sara Driessel's mother in court Thursday.

August 7, 2008

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Sara Anne Driessel's fall from an Oread Neighborhood rooftop severely injured her brain and has given the former Kansas University student no chance to recover, her mother said.

"At some point, I ceased praying for recovery and began praying for compassion and peace for my family," said Beth Driessel at the closing of the seven-page statement she read during Thursday afternoon's settlement hearing.

The Driessels sued the then-owners of the house at 1045 Tenn., Lake Quivira residents David K. Jones, his wife, Misti L. Jones, and their son, Kyle Jones. District Judge Robert Fairchild approved a $552,000 settlement at the conclusion of the hearing.

The mother's statement in court in front of the defendants was part of the settlement.

Kyle Jones was renting the house from his parents. Sara Driessel, now 22, was attending a party in October 2004 at the house when she fell off a back porch. A door opened to the porch, which did not have a railing.

Court records indicate Sara Driessel's blood-alcohol content shortly after the fall was 0.241, which is more than three times the legal limit of 0.08.

The fall broke all of her ribs, her right shoulder, right wrist and left leg. It punctured both her lungs and caused seven skull fractures. Her condition improved in late 2004, but brain injuries had damaged her vision and orientation to details.

When she started suffering seizures, Sara Driessel was in and out of the hospital. A feeding tube was inserted in 2005. Her mother said she has not had a conversation with her daughter for three years. She responds only to pain, but otherwise she is incapacitated.

"Sara will ultimately die as a result of her injury. The only question is when," her mother said.

Beth Driessel mostly talked about her daughter during the statement - Sara Driessel's fun and yet stubborn personality. She also thanked her friends and relatives who have supported them and helped care for Sara in the hospital.

But Beth Driessel told the Joneses that even though Thursday's hearing may end their involvement in legal proceedings, they should remember that the Driessels will have an empty chair at holiday dinners.

"For us, there will never be closure," she said.

Beth Driessel acknowledged her daughter was "not without fault," and she asked Fairchild to rule that Sara Driessel was 30 percent responsible in the accident.

"She made poor choices, but the venue was provided," Beth Driessel said. "It was an accident. Nothing more, nothing less."

She also called the lawsuit a way to advocate for her daughter, not to gain financially. After attorney fees and other expenses, the remaining settlement funds will be put into a trust for Sara Driessel's medical needs, the mother said.

Ian M. Bartalos, an attorney for the Jones family, asked Beth Driessel if she understood that Fairchild would not find the defendants at fault during the hearing. She said she understood.

The Jones family did not make a statement in court. In earlier court fillings, Bartalos wrote that both parties agreed his clients aren't admitting any liability but just wanted to settle the case.

Comments

Charles L Bloss Jr 6 years, 4 months ago

This is so sad. A wonderful young person's life damaged like this. You have my deepest sympathy. Thank you, Lynn

XEPCT 6 years, 4 months ago

"Both parties are culpable. Blaming this on one or the other is ignorant."...Logicsound, I disagree because I think is was an accident, leaving neither party culpable. Her mother said it was "It was an accident. Nothing more, nothing less." True, the girl was injured, but without really knowing the situation, I, morally, cannot allocate blame. Everyone else can (and does) do however they wish.

jayhawks71 6 years, 4 months ago

smartmomma, a previous article by LJ World stated: "Court records indicate Sara Driessel's blood-alcohol content shortly after the fall was 0.241, which is more than three times the legal limit of 0.08."At the risk of sounding insensitive, to claim that the daughter is 30% at fault for falling off the roof is preposterous. Imagine if the daughter had driven her car and killed a pedestrian. Would 70% fault be attributed to the car manufacturer and the pedestrian? How many sober or legally "not drunk" people were on that roof that night that did not fall off? But for her impaired state, she would not be in her current situation; I am not so sure that a railing would have saved her from the fall. I wish the best for the young woman but in my book, I would give her 80% of the blame.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 4 months ago

And whoever provided the alcohol to a minor got off free? Just a bad deal for all involved.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

Blurred vision: "Beth Driessel should be thankful that the court system was overly generous to her. She has no business pointing fingers at anyone except her drinkin' and smokin' daughter.""...Well tell me moreTell me moreTell me moreI mean was [s]he a heavy doperOr was [s]he just a loser?[S]He was a friend of yoursWhat do you mean[S]He['d been drinking?][Fell from a roof?][S]He tried to do h[er] bestBut [s]he could not?Please take my advicePlease take my advicePlease take my adviceOpen up the tired eyes...." Someone precious to someone... died.

jayhawks71 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't think that the owner's of the home are blameless. There are codes for these things for a reason. I think they hold some responsibility, but as I posted previously 1/5 of it is theirs.

XEPCT 6 years, 4 months ago

"It was an accident. Nothing more, nothing less," Beth Driessel said. ....Then treat it as such, I'm sure the young man has internally dealt with plenty of guilt already. I used to live in a house at 9th and Ohio that had no railing around the second floor deck and my roomates and I would have been absolutely devastated if one of our friends accidentally fell off the garage.

not_dolph 6 years, 4 months ago

Is Metta just a new identity for Cool / Spiderman? You be the judge. Multiple posts. Youtube links. OCD. See - http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/jul/31/firm_pays_fine_lack_certificate/#comments

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

"For us there will never be closure," she said.Closure is a myth. Life's eventualities leave us wide open.... except for those who tightly wrap themselves in a cocoon of closureso insulating that it denies metamorphosis.

smartmomma 6 years, 4 months ago

Did they ever state what the victims blood alcohol level was at the time she fell?

Mike Blur 6 years, 4 months ago

Keep in mind also that a person's BAC post-trauma is taken several hours after the incident, and was probably diluted by intravenous fluids during emergency surgery. At the time she fell,Sara Driessel's BAC was probably close to double the stated amount (.4 to .5).Beth Driessel should be thankful that the court system was overly generous to her. She has no business pointing fingers at anyone except her drinkin' and smokin' daughter.

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 4 months ago

The girl was of legal age and made her own decision to drink. She bears 100% responsiblity. It's sad, no doubt of the injury but facts are facts.

Confrontation 6 years, 4 months ago

We better fill in all the lakes. They provide a venue for an extremely drunk person to walk right into them.

XEPCT 6 years, 4 months ago

whoa, whoa, whoa ... Mike Blur, you might be a smart guy, but I seriously doubt that paramedics overlooked that. I'm pretty confident in saying that the paramedics deal with more people that have injured themselves while drunk than you have. I'm confident in their abilities, especially since in a college town such as ours several cases per year involving alcohol are sited by prosecutors and cross examined by defence attorneys. All it takes is a little nail working itself loose to trip someone on a porch, poor girl.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

But, Confrontation, Ram has evolved... and, in Kansas, that is no small accomplishment.

jayhawks71 6 years, 4 months ago

She wasn't of legal age to drink: "Sara Driessel, now 22, was attending a party in October 2004 at the house when she fell off a back porch." @max1 - She could have leaned on it and flipped over in her state. She could have been walking backward and flipped over it. The issue I have here is that the code for a rail is not intended to keep any person in any possible condition from falling. Codes are written to protect reasonable behavior from this outcome. However, even if she were not intoxicated and had the home been up to code, some court of would have assigned some blame to the homeowner.

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 4 months ago

Great.Now somebody who claims to be the owner of the house.Why would you EVEN give consideration blogging in public on this issue?Crazy. Just absolutely crazy.

dirkleisure 6 years, 4 months ago

MacHeath (Anonymous) says:Did you see the picture of the house? Do you people have any idea what you are talking about? There is a door, a roof, no rail. If that was your property, and you rented it to college students, would you leave it that way?----------------------------------I'll actually take it one step further. That door looks new. From the appearance of the footage, the parents purchased the house and created access to the roof because it would be "cool" for their son and his friends.Drunk or not, a person should never have been on that roof and the parents are lucky the settlement is so low.

Confrontation 6 years, 4 months ago

It's interesting that Ramsfield would encourage others to be classy. Here are some samples of his/her classy posts:"I went a few years ago. Only thing i enjoyed were the jugs popping out of those old style dresses....""why? because youre acting like a knowitallbtch""nice point, moron...........""Spandex wanks dont think they need to follow the rules of the road.................You better get over "peter pan" - im coming through!""Keith - let me clear it up for you.........youre a moron.""Wannabe Eurotrash. Sorry you hate yourself. LOL""dumba$$es"*I'm not claiming that my posts are classy, which is why I don't tell others that their posts aren't classy.

chiefgater49 6 years, 4 months ago

With the settlement final, I'd like to offer a few of my thoughts as the previous owner of the property.Regarding the door and railing issue. The home is over 100 years old and the door was there prior to our purchase, probably for several years. At the time of purchase, which was a few months before the accident, we had the home inspected by a certified professional engineer (PE) and no code violation was cited (we did however spend tens of thousands of dollars repairing and fixing other problems and safety issues associated with restoring a 100 year old home). Whether or not there was a code violation is open for debate however - if the roof/deck is defined as a deck then yes, if not then no. Does a door to a roof make it a deck? If it does and there was an obvious violation, then why was it not fixed by any previous owner (the last being a realtor that should know the code) and why were we or the previous owner not contacted beforehand by the City about the obvious violation? Afterall, the roof and door are in plain view from the street. If we had been made aware that it was a violation then we would have corrected it immediately. On hindsight, we obviously should have replaced the door with a window prior to purchase. At the time, however, we felt the danger of going on the roof was self-evident :: you venture near a cliff (or a roof edge), you might fall, and if you do fall, you might be injured ........ our mistake. The door also made for a faster exit from a fire if someone got trapped in the attic bedroom (there was a rope ladder). Also, my wife (an ER nurse) was at the house quite often working on its restoration in her off days and the tenants had repeatedly been told not to go on the roof. There was no party at the house the night of the accident. Four people were awake in the house - my son, Sara, and two female friends. No one forced anyone to drink, they brought their own liquor into the house. In their depositions, the two girls indicated they and Sara had been told on previous occasions by our son not to go onto the roof. Sara was the only one on the roof at the time of the fall. Why and how it happened no one knows.With that said, we all have free-will and face the consequences of our decisions and actions, us included. My wife and I along with our son who was Sara's friend will have to live with the knowledge that maybe we could have done more to prevent the accident. The one positive thing to come out of the lawsuit is that apparently most of the settlement money will go towards improving Sara's care. Sara and her family have always been in our thoughts and prayers and will remain so.

LadyJ 6 years, 4 months ago

chiefgater49---As a landlady let me assure you, putting a window there would not have necessarily stopped her. I have put fire safe bars on a window to stop people from going on the roof, and it wasn't even flat, and they would take them off. I had the door permanently sealed, and they tried to undo it. Drive around town and you see them on porch roofs all the time. I make them sign statements saying they know fires are not allowed and find scorch marks on the porch. They tell me that they tell their friends certain things are not allowed but when they're not looking they do it anyway. Kids will do what they want even if someone tells them not to. The kid that fell three stories today fell from a balcony with a rail. I'm sorry for Sara and her parents but sometimes kids do stupid things and others have to live with the results. Actually Sara is probably on disability and most of her medical bills are being taken care of. It is a tragic situation for the parents, but bad things happen to good people.

LadyJ 6 years, 4 months ago

Maybe because they were not given the same opportunity to read a seven page statement in court telling how this has affected their lives.

PinkMinxie 6 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawks71 said..."At the risk of sounding insensitive, to claim that the daughter is 30% at fault for falling off the roof is preposterous. Imagine if the daughter had driven her car and killed a pedestrian. Would 70% fault be attributed to the car manufacturer and the pedestrian? How many sober or legally "not drunk" people were on that roof that night that did not fall off? But for her impaired state, she would not be in her current situation; I am not so sure that a railing would have saved her from the fall. I wish the best for the young woman but in my book, I would give her 80% of the blame."I would go 50/50. Basically you have 2 parties involved in a dispute where each was liable for doing something "wrong". The "victim" was breaking the law (technically) by drinking alcohol as a minor. The "defendant" was guilty of a building code violation. Millions of minors consume alcohol every day. Millions of homeowners would not be found to be 100% code compliant if inspected. Let's get the world back to "personal responsibility". If we lived in a society and a culture where the mindset was that of everyone taking care of being responsible for "their own part" of things, then some idiot would have never been awarded a million dollars from McDonalds for serving hot coffee that the idiot then spilled on HIMSELF. The same idiot would have been the first to complain if s/he'd been served COLD coffee!! Come on people, let's all get out there and keep it real, taking responsibility for ourselves, and our own life's choices.

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