The death of a Chicago teen has been ruled an accident. The case, which transfixed the nation after Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in a hotel walk-in freezer, can now have some small amount of closure. Still, the coroner’s report will not completely assuage fears generated by social media and internet articles on the case.
For nearly a month, from the time the teen’s body was discovered on September 10th, 2017 until the coroner’s ruling on October 17th, the Internet was awash with conspiracy theories as to how Ms. Jenkins had ended up where she did. First, Twitter users theorized she had been lured to her death or sent to her death by fellow party-goers with a hidden agenda.
But the coroner’s report simply indicates that intoxication was the primary factor in Ms. Jenkin’s wandering the hotel. Security footage captured Ms. Jenkins entering the kitchen area of the hotel unaccompanied, and the police have not found any indications of foul play despite a thorough investigation.
Lost in all the discussion of who might have contributed to Ms. Jenkin’s demise was an honest evaluation of whether the hotel itself should have made it more difficult for such an incident to occur. A drunk teenage girl was able to wander the hotel and eventually end up in a walk-in freezer despite the presence of security cameras and staff to prevent such a terrible tragedy from occurring.
Most hotels limit access to certain areas, requiring a key to enter. Almost all hotel pools require a key to enter the pool area. Yet somehow, an intoxicated teenager was able to enter the kitchen with no one the wiser. And it took two days of searching for her to be found, despite security cameras recording large portions of the event.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed at a hotel, bar, or other business, recognize that businesses are required to take reasonable steps to ensure patron safety. If those steps were not taken, contact an experienced attorney who can help you hold them responsible for their negligence.