The death of a 10-year-old Overland Park boy at the Birmingham, Ala., airport last year was a horrible accident. Now his family is trying to create a legacy of good out of tragedy.
On Wednesday, the parents and four siblings of Luke Bresette traveled to Birmingham to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with those responsible and to discuss a foundation in Luke’s name.
“We definitely have hope for the future and are trying to move forward for ourselves and our kids,” said Heather Bresette, mother of Luke, who was killed when a large display sign toppled on him at the airport.
Terms of the financial settlement were kept confidential.
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“I can say that the amount of compensation is reasonable and commensurate with the losses suffered by the family,” their attorney, Tim Dollar, said.
To honor Luke, the family also promoted the Live Like Luke Foundation, which will help other children affected by tragedy or hardships realize their dreams.
“He was a very happy and joyful child who tried to put a smile on others’ faces, even at the expense of getting in trouble,” Heather Bresette said in a telephone interview from Birmingham. “He squeezed every ounce of life out of every moment.”
His father, Ryan Bresette, described Luke as “just a beautiful boy and a bundle of energy, and being the middle child he was the glue to our family.”
The foundation is intended to help carry forth his name and love for life.
Dollar said details of the foundation are still being worked out, but the Bresettes will oversee it, assisted by a legal team and a board. It will be based in the Kansas City area but will extend beyond Kansas City to reach out to children affected by tragedy or great need, and to encourage them to live life to the fullest. More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/livelikeluke/info.
The Bresettes had been returning home from a Florida spring break vacation on March 22, 2013, when a large flight information sign weighing several hundred pounds fell on several family members at a new terminal at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.
The lawsuit said the sign was unstable and named contractors, the architect and sign company as defendants. On Wednesday, Dollar commended the defendants for agreeing to make changes to assure similar tragedies are avoided in the future.
Dollar said by telephone from Birmingham that the sign was taken out, and now the terminal has entirely different signs, all fixed to the floor and to the wall.
The airport terminal project was a joint venture of Brasfield & Gorrie General Contractors and BLOC Global Services Group, who were among the defendants. They issued a statement Wednesday saying they continue to pray for the Bresette family’s physical and emotional healing.
“The Brasfield & Gorrie/BLOC team cooperated with the family throughout the lawsuit investigation,” the companies said. “We have worked together to have an open dialog about the events leading up to the accident and steps that can be taken in the future to prevent anything like this from happening again.”
Dollar also noted that the Birmingham Airport Authority has offered to commission a memorial likeness of Luke to be placed at the airport, not as a reminder of the tragedy but to celebrate his young life. That memorial is in the early planning stages.
Ryan Bresette spoke at a news conference Wednesday about the incredible words of encouragement the family received from around the country and the world in the wake of the tragedy.
“The outpouring of love and support is what aided us to get out of bed each day and carry on,” he said, according to a news release of his remarks.
He particularly thanked both the communities in Birmingham and Kansas City for all the compassion shown.
He said faith has kept the family strong. And they believe in forgiveness.
“The individuals who make up the companies involved here are good and decent people who never intended this result,” Bresette said. “Nevertheless, mistakes were made, and there has now been accountability and repentance. Our family in return extends forgiveness.”
To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.