CHICAGO (CBS) -- Nearly two weeks after their daughter was paralyzed when a pedestrian shelter fell on her at O'Hare International Airport, a Mundelein family has sued the city for negligence.
Tierney Darden and her family were standing outside Terminal 2 at O'Hare on Aug. 2 when a storm swept in, and they tried to take cover from the hail and high winds by ducking under one of the massive shelters along the arrival lanes.
The shelter, with rusted brackets and bolts missing, blew over, and crashed on top of the 24-year-old dancer, pinning her to the ground, her knees pressed against her chest.
"She's screaming for people to help," her mother Trudy said.
Part of the structure also fell on Trudy, who said she could see her daughter struggling to get free.
"She's like 'I can't move, I can't move,' and I'm thinking, 'Okay, she just can't move. It's just probably still too heavy,' until she goes, 'And I can't feel my legs,'" she said.
Four people pulled the shelter off Tierney.
"Once they lifted it off, they're all yelling 'You can move, now. You can move, now,' and she's still saying, 'But I can't move my legs,'" she said.
Tierney's spinal cord was severed, and she was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Darden family attorney Tara Devine said the shelter was clearly unsafe.
"It is visible to the naked eye that the base of the shelter was rusty, and it was not properly secured to the ground," she said. "Shelters like this are created to help people stay safe, but in this case it was the shelter that wasn't safe, and now this one woman's life has been changed forever."
Trudy said she's trying to come to terms with what happened.
"This is my daughter that's silly, and funny, and outgoing. She's always moving. She's always dancing around, and twirling, and trying on wedding dresses. She annoyed her sister, because she wouldn't stop dancing around in the bridesmaid dresses, and we'll never see that again," she said.
The family's lawsuit against the city of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Aviation alleges the shelter was not properly fastened to the sidewalk, noting rusted brackets and missing bolts.
After the accident, the 2 Investigators inspected the pedestrian shelters in the arrival lanes of Terminals 1, 2, and 3 at O'Hare. They found alarming safety problems with multiple shelters; from bolts missing or not secured, to other corroded parts and missing or broken brackets.
One shelter was missing 22 bolts that are supposed to connect it to the ground and eight more screws in various spots that connect to the structure itself. Also, an entire mounting plate was missing.
"These nuts and bolts are everything to these shelters," said Darden family attorney Jeff Kroll. "If there was any kind of proper inspection going on by the Department of Aviation, if there was any kind of proper maintenance protocol, this would have never happened."
After 2 Investigator Dave Savini pointed out the dangerous conditions to two airport workers, one told him all the shelters will be taken down.
As of Thursday night, only a few shelters had been removed. The city did not respond to various requests for comment and for documentation and video of Darden's accident.
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