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- Lawsuit: Owners at fault for fall (06-01-06)
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- Landlords telling KU to lay down party law (02-05-06)
- KU student injured in fall begins rehab (01-11-05)
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.