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Victim's Family Receives $720,000 After Joy Ride Ends in Tragedy

03.27.1997

An early morning joy ride by four teenagers that led to the death of a 35-year-old husband and father on his way to work last April has resulted in a $720,000 settlement for the victim's family.

Kenneth Hasselbring of Kirkland was killed in a collision that occurred on Route 47 in Rutland Township after the car he was driving was struck head-on by a car being driven by Michael Larkin, 17, of Minooka.

Francis Patrick Murphy of Chicago's Corboy & Demetrio represented the victim's family in a wrongful-death suit against Larkin, who was indicted for reckless homicide in connection with the accident.

Witnesses to the Kane County collision said that Larkin was driving southbound on Route 47, traveling at a high rate of speed as he passed other southbound vehicles. As he attempted to return to the southbound lane, witnesses said the car swerved, hit the southbound gravel shoulder, crossed back over the center line and struck the car being driven by Hasselbring, who was northbound on Route 47. Hasselbring was pronounced dead at the scene, as was a 19--year-old youth in the car being driven by Larkin. One of the other occupants in that vehicle was rendered quadriplegic, while the fourth teen broke her arm.

Larkin claimed he was not driving, although DNA results indicate the blood found on the driver's airbag was his blood type. Larkin, who has a prior DUI, had a blood-alcohol level of .229-- more than twice the limit of intoxication! In testimony given in March, the 17-year-old passenger in the back seat admitted that Larkin was the driver at the time of the deadly crash.

Hasselbring, the father of a son and a daughter who are now 8 and 10 respectively, was a carpet installer on his way to work when the accident occurred. In addition to his children, he is survived by his wife, Patricia. Because of limited insurance coverage in this case, Murphy says, she had to settle for a fraction of what her husband's death meant to her and her children.

"The tragedy in this case is extreme," says Murphy, "two deaths, one quadriplegic, one seriously injured and one probably going to jail. The four kids bought a case of beer the night before and were just joyriding around all night," Murphy says. "One has to wonder about the absence of parental involvement," he adds.

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