LOS ANGELES (KABC)—Ailing radio legend Casey Kasem may inspire a new law based on his children’s attempts to visit him. The legendary radio DJ has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for years. His family has been embroiled in a battle over the right to visit him, which has prompted a state lawmaker to take action.
It’s been a frustrating court battle for Kasem’s kids. But now one of his daughters says she has new hope. Kerri Kasem says she simply wants to see her father, but is being denied by her stepmother of 33 years, Jean. “To be blocked for no reason when he needs us the most has been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through,” said Kerri Kasem. Casey Kasem signed off the air in 2009 due to Parkinson’s disease and is now hospitalized. Kasem’s kids have protested outside his home to see him and recently battled in court. “There is nothing in the law books right now that allows a judge to adjudicate, to rule on visitation rights for children,” said Kerri Kasem.
Now Kerri is joining Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) in proposing new legislation. “Current law does not provide for any information to be given to the adult children of somebody who might be sick and elderly. We want to change that,” said Gatto. Gatto’s bill would require conservators inform relatives if someone is hospitalized for acute care, or dies, and disclose funeral arrangements and burial location. Gatto says the bill also provides “reasonable accommodations” for adult children to visit their parent. “This is about keeping families together,” said Gatto. “I think the most important thing, of course, is to make sure that children get to see their mom or dad if that person is getting toward the end of days.” “It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life and I just hope this helps so many families that are going through this,” said Kerri Kasem.
What does the bill meant to Kerri personally? “That there’s hope, that there’s light, and that my father would have stood up and done something about this, and he can’t, so I’m doing it for him,” said Kerri. Gatto hopes to pass this bill under what’s called “urgent status.” If so, that means it could become law by mid-summer.