City looking to help fall victim

Everyone says they want to help 14-year-old girl paralysed in fall, but no-one is quite sure how

Frida Jersø, the 14-year-old girl who was paralysed from the waist down after a fall from Dronning Louise’s Bridge in Nørrebro, may finally receive some compensation from the city. Copenhagen Police have released a report absolving both the city and the two girls involved of any fault in the accident, which occurred in January when a rusty railing gave way and the girls plunged four metres onto the asphalt bike path below.

The deputy mayor for technical and environmental affairs, Ayfer Baykal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), said that the ruling clears the way for the girls to receive some help from the city, although she declined to say when that may happen.

“It is a very sad case that we must resolve as soon as possible, but I cannot promise when that will be,” Baykal told radio station P4 København.

Baykal said that although there is broad support in city hall to compensate the girl and her family, everything is on hold until lawyers decide how any payment would work under the law. The city has not been found liable, so they are under no legal obligation to provide compensation. Baykal is not even sure if they are allowed to give the family any money.

“The correct legal groundwork needs to be in place," she said. "We don’t want the state to take the money back because it was paid out illegally.”

The girl’s father, Tom Jersø, said the family has waited long enough for the city to make amends for the accident. The incident occurred when Frida and her 14-year-old friend, Felicity, were leaning on the rail when it suddenly gave way. Frida was paralysed in the fall and Felicity suffered a number of serious injuries, including a concussion. Jersø has said from the beginning that the city was at fault.

"They should have taken responsibility immediately," Jersø told Ekstra Bladet. “It is their rail, and they knew it was poorly maintained.”

Søren Jensen, the family’s attorney, said he thinks it is time for the city to reach out to the paralysed youngster.

“The only conclusion that can be reached is that there was something wrong with the railing,” Jensen told P4 København.

Baykal said that she has instructed city attorneys to meet with the Jersø family lawyer right away, although she stressed that there is no date on when any compensation might be paid out.

Copenhagen's mayor, Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne), has made it clear that he wants this case resolved quickly.

"As mayor, I simply do not accept that a 14-year-old girl and her family should have to wait so long," Jensen told Ekstra Bladet. “I appeal to everyone involved to resolve this matter.”

A report on the city web site said that the consulting engineering firm COWI had recommended that the bridge’s railing be replaced in 2016. That report was commissioned after a report done in 2010 by another company recommended that the bridge be repaired no later than 2012. The web site also said that the public works department makes regular inspections of the city’s many bridges and that Dronning Louise Bridge had been inspected just three weeks before the accident occurred.