A suburban Chicago teenager can't remember the car accident that caused her brain injury. The father of the 14-year--old passenger is glad she doesn't recall the day in March that she nearly drowned. He is thankful she does not recollect her pain and suffering or the death of the driver, a 20-year--old mother.
The girl spent nearly half an hour in the depths of a retention pond next to an Interstate 88 off ramp. The teen's father is convinced a strong barrier would have prevented the car accident. He is pushing to get the Illinois Toll Highway Authority to install a guardrail at the Eola Road ramp.
The driver lost control in the single--vehicle crash. Police said the young woman was not impaired.
The father is haunted by thoughts of his daughter trapped in the pond, fighting for her life while witnessing the driver's horrifying struggle to survive. The extended period below water damaged the teen's brain by robbing it of oxygen. The girl was hospitalized for three weeks.
The parent enlisted the help of an Illinois lawmaker to convince the state a guardrail was needed at the unlit off--ramp. The only protection vehicles have from going in the water is a chain--link fence, which the state representative believes wouldn't "stop anybody."
Illinois Toll Highway Authority did not commit to changing the barrier from a fence to a guardrail, despite the lawmaker's appeal. The agency has promised a review but nothing else.
Brain trauma victims often suffer permanent disability. The teenager's educational and career goals may never be realized. Her recovery will be long and costly.
The deceased driver's estate may be named in a personal injury lawsuit filed by the parents on behalf of their minor daughter. An attorney could advise whether a claim could also include allegations that the state was negligent for failing to provide an adequate barrier on the exit ramp.
Source: chicago.cbslocal.com, "Man Wants Guardrail Where Daughter Almost Drowned, Driver Died In Crash Into Pond," April 11, 2013