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A lawsuit seeking unspecified damages has been filed on behalf of the mother of a Texas A&M University student who was killed in a 1999 bonfire collapse at the College Station, Texas, campus. Self v. Texas A&M, et al., filed March 28 in Tarrant County, Texas, probate court by Darrell Keith, of the Law Firm of Darrell Keith in Fort Worth, Texas, for Jacquelynn Kay Self, alleges engineering and architectural flaws in the structure of logs led to the collapse. Twelve people, including 20-year-old student Jerry Don Self of Arlington, were killed. The bonfire, a longtime tradition at Texas A&M, was built each fall by stacking logs in a wedding-cake design. When it collapsed in 1999, the structure had reached 59 feet, as alleged in the suit. “I intend to prove that for several years the Texas A&M bonfire structure was built in a safe and solid manner,” Keith says. “It was as safe as the Rock of Gibraltar.” But sometime after that, Keith alleges, the bonfire builders altered the structure of the fire, making it unsafe. The suit names Texas A&M, four university administrators, two companies whose cranes were used in the construction and 15 student leaders as defendants. Keith says Self is devastated by the loss of her son and wants to prevent a similar occurrence. Cynthia Lawson, a spokeswoman for Texas A&M, says, “It is the university’s policy not to comment on pending legal matters, but we do want to emphasize that the university will continue to provide as much assistance as it can to bonfire victims and their families.” No bonfire was built in 2000; tentative plans call for resuming the tradition in 2002.

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