Kennewick man hurt in incident at Jack Didley's

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldJuly 7, 2012 

A Kennewick man is fighting for his life at a Richland hospital after his skull was fractured while being removed from a downtown Kennewick bar.

Ben Ensign, 31, was being carried out of Jack Didley's around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, and got the head injury when his head hit the ground, said Mike Blatman, Kennewick police spokesman.

Ensign's family said Ensign was thrown out on the street by the bar's bouncers and his head slammed onto the ground.

"He has a massive skull fracture," said Ensign's mother, Sheila Barichello. "He was bleeding and foaming from the mouth. That's how bad the injuries are."

Kennewick police are investigating the aggravated assault, but no arrests have been made. That has Ensign's family concerned.

Kennewick police Detective Sgt. Bryan Weatherbee, who leads the department's Criminal Apprehension Team, said his detectives have been working the case since Wednesday night.

"I can understand their frustrations, but there's lots of reasons why we wouldn't arrest the suspect immediately," he said. "We want to hold people accountable if they commit a crime, absolutely. ... But we need to do a thorough investigation to make sure we come to the right conclusion."

Detectives already have discussed the case with Benton County prosecutors and will forward the reports to them once the investigation is completed so prosecutors can conduct a full review, he said.

Blatman said police have gotten different versions of the story from different witnesses who said Ensign was thrown to the ground or slipped and was dropped by the bouncers who were carrying him out. That's what investigators are trying to sort out, along with the question of "whether or not it was intentional," he said.

What police do know is Ensign was with friends at the bar at 109 W. Kennewick Ave., when he was asked to leave because of his behavior, Blatman said. The injury occurred when he was being carried out by two bouncers.

Detectives have video from the bar and are using it to aid their investigation.

Barichello said her son, who works at Lithia Dodge, had gone to the bar after watching the fireworks show.

He was initially taken to Kennewick General Hospital, then transferred to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

He underwent surgery to remove a portion of his skull to relieve the pressure from the swelling inside his head, she said.

Ensign is in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

"This is a critical situation with my son, Ben," she said. "We're getting all the family here."

Kevin Ensign, Ben Ensign's uncle, said surgeons told the family that Ben suffered severe damage to the left side of his brain and they should prepare themselves that Ben "may never be the same," he said in an email to the Herald.

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