A federal judge has decided the mother of a 16-year-old girl who died in a Utah wilderness program suffered more from the loss and should get a greater percentage of a $260,000 insurance settlement than the father will receive.
Kristen Chase of Ponte Vedra, Fla., died June 27, 1990, while on a hike with the now-defunct Challenger Foundation wilderness-therapy program. Challenger founder Stephen Cartisano was acquitted of misdemeanor charges in the operation but was prohibited from running similar programs in Utah again.The girl's mother, Sharon Fuqua, had sought all of the insurance settlement but was chal-lenged by the girl's father, Ronald Chase, who had said it was "ironic that the mother sending her daughter off to a death camp gets the reward from the settlement."
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene ruled Aug. 4 that of the settlement and interest, Fuqua will get $121,709, from which she is to pay her own attorney's fees, which were not disclosed.
Greene said the law firm representing the father will receive $91,697 and the father will get $56,453, including reimbursement for the $4,292 he spent on her funeral.
The girl's parents divorced in 1978. Fuqua enrolled the girl in the Challenger program in the hope that it would help her correct behavior problems and kick a drug habit.
Kristen died of heatstroke while hiking on the Kaiparowits Plateau in southern Utah.
Chase filed a wrongful-death suit against Challenger. Fuqua contested his right to file suit because he had not had custody of the girl and was almost $25,000 in arrears in child-support payments.