BY Matthew Lysiak and Larry Mcshane
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Sunday, September 25th 2011, 4:00 AM
A spring night on the High Line led to a hard fall for a star-gazing New Jersey teen who plans to sue the city for $2.5 million.
A still-limping Kirk Rasnick, 18, says he plunged 14 feet to a Chelsea street while scaling a fence after city workers locked him inside the popular elevated park. "I fell hard," Rasnick told the Daily News. "I crushed my knee, rupturing my ACL, and hurt my back. It really messed me up."
The painful injuries suffered after the park's closing on June 13 kept Rasnick from playing football in his senior year at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, N.J., he said. "You can't put a price tag on that," the disappointed teen said, adding that surgery on the damaged right knee was imminent.
Rasnick, whose joint remains swollen after three months, was treated at Bellevue Hospital and the Jersey City Medical Center after the precipitous plunge, his lawyer said.
The notice of claim filed by Manhattan attorney Gary Fish charged city employees "negligently, carelessly, recklessly and unreasonably locked the doors to the park, preventing the claimant and his friends from exiting."
The legal filing said Rasnick also suffered injuries "which will long continue" to his body, back and shoulders.
Rasnick, his brother and a pal were hanging out in the urban oasis near W. 26th St. after arriving around 8 p.m., looking up at the night sky. The three youths were neither drunk nor high, the Jersey teen said.
"We were just lying in the grass relaxing," Rasnick told the News. "It was a nice night. We saw a patrol go by once around 9 p.m., but that was the last time we saw them. At about 11 o'clock we tried to leave, but the gate was closed."
Although Rasnick says he was unaware of the park's 11 p.m. closing time, the hours are clearly marked at its entrances.
The teen - who said none of the trio had a cell phone - also missed a pair of bright yellow emergency call boxes inside the West Side park.
"I didn't see any signs," he said. "Emergency call boxes? I didn't see any emergency call boxes."
His brother and the other man managed to scale the fence at street level and jump to freedom. But Rasnick toppled to the ground on 10th Ave. once he reached the top, landing with a thud.
"It's messing up my life," the teen said. "I haven't been able to get to job interviews. I had to take time off school."
Fish said the lawsuit wasn't yet filed, although the subject of a settlement was broached with the city corporation counsel. "We're still in the preliminary stages," he said.
Connie Pankratz, spokeswoman for the corporation counsel, said the city couldn't comment on pending litigation.
The teen said he thought a $2.5 million payment was about right for his injuries.
"Why didn't they check before they locked the gate?" he asked. "It's not like we were hiding. This all could have been prevented."