Lawsuit goes to trial after dancer paralyzed by O'Hare shelter collapse

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A trial began Tuesday involving a suburban college student and dancer who was paralyzed when a bus shelter was blown over at O'Hare Airport.

Tierney Darden's family filed a lawsuit against the city and Department of Aviation.

Tierney Darden was 24 when the shelter fell on her. Now 26 years old, relatives testified to the young woman's constant pain and suffering since the incident.

David Darden, of Vernon Hills, arrived to a Daley Center courtroom Tuesday, where he shared with a Cook County jury and judge memories of his daughter before she was paralyzed, and her reality now.

Before the accident, Tierney Darden had been a dancer, choreographer and dance coach at Vernon Hills High School.

On August 2, 2015, a shelter at O'Hare International Airport fell during a storm. Tierney Darden was underneath the structure.

David Darden recalls pulling up to the scene at O'Hare. He was the first witness in the civil lawsuit against the City of Chicago.

"I saw Tierney was lying in the roadway. She was underneath a downpour of water," he said. "She was in a lot of pain. She was crying. She was confused. She knew she couldn't move."

Jurors were shown a video of his daughter now. In it, she moans with each movement.

Her father testified to the difficult daily routine to go to the bathroom since the loss of bowel and bladder function, and her chronic pain. David Darden says despite dozens of medications, she often wakes in pain during the night at least twice a week.

He testified there are moments when she is "sometimes crying out in pain."

Tierney Darden is expected to testify, possibly on Wednesday. With her medical conditions, the family said sometimes she is in too much pain to get out of bed.

Her testimony will be contingent on how she feels. The city had offered $22 million to settle the case. Now, a jury will decide.
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