$10M settlement reached with family of teen who froze to death in hotel freezer

Francis Akhalbey December 15, 2023
Kenneka Jenkins, 19, froze to death after she wandered into a hotel freezer -- Photo via Facebook

The family of a 19-year-old woman, who froze to death after she wandered into a hotel walk-in freezer, has reached a $10 million settlement. Per NBC News, the fatal incident happened six years ago at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.

The deceased, identified as Kenneka Jenkins, wandered into the hotel’s walk-in commercial freezer after she lost her bearings as a result of consuming alcohol and her medications for migraines and epilepsy. 

Jenkins was attending a party at the hotel when she made her way into the facility’s commercial freezer. After her friends later noticed she was nowhere to be found, they contacted her mother Tereasa Martin. That was around 4 a.m.

The 2018 lawsuit filed by Jenkins’ family stated that Martin subsequently contacted the hotel, and she was informed its staff would take a look at surveillance footage to try and trace her daughter. But the hotel as well as security did not access the surveillance footage, the lawsuit stated. It later appeared that officers who responded to the scene were the first to take a look at the surveillance footage, NBC Chicago reported.

Footage reviewed by police showed Jenkins walking into the freezer around 3:30 a.m. Her body was found in the freezer after 21 hours, and her cause of death was later ruled as an accident caused by hypothermia. The lawsuit stated that had the hotel properly kept an eye on the security cameras, Jenkins would have been found alive.

The lawsuit also claimed the hotel, its restaurant, and a security company were negligent as the freezer was left unsecured and Jenkins wasn’t located after a search was initiated, NBC News reported.

Per the terms of the settlement, Jenkins’ mother will be paid $3.7 million while other family members will receive $2.7 million, court documents stated. $3.5 million will also be paid in attorney fees, and $6,000 will be used to cover the costs incurred for Jenkins’ funeral.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: December 15, 2023


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