Paralyzed dancer testifies in case against city over O'Hare shelter collapse

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 26-year-old woman who was paralyzed when a bus shelter fell on her recalled the incident in a Cook County court Wednesday as part of her lawsuit against the city.

Tierney Darden, a former dancer, sued the city after the bus shelter at O'Hare International Airport blew over during a storm two years ago.

"I remember I heard a scream. Then I got hit in the head by the shelter. I started to run but then realized it was too late to run," she said.

Before the incident, dancing was Darden's passion and she says she's had to give up her dream of a dance career. The former Truman College student said she loved music and art and hoped to one day own a dance studio.

Darden has never recovered use of her legs. She entered the courthouse in a wheelchair which has become her only way to get around since the incident.

The city has offered to settle the case for $22 million but Darden's attorneys have refused. Her attorneys are seeking $150 million in damages.

During her testimony, she said: "As I hit the ground there was a crash and a white light and everything went numb. And at that moment I knew I was paralyzed."

Darden has undergone numerous surgeries, but none has been successful in restoring her movement.

One of her doctors testified that the problem is never going to get better. The pain's never going to go away. Her doctor said she struggles with depression and anxiety.

Darden recalled the exchange with her mother, who was also injured when the shelter collapsed.

"My mom was telling me to get up and I was telling her I couldn't," she said. "I was paralyzed."

Darden's attorneys claim the bus shelter was poorly constructed and maintained, presenting photos they took shortly after the incident.
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