Ashtabula man faces long recovery from brain injury

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The family of a man who sustained severe brain injury will soon find out what the sentence will be for the woman who caused the crash. She has pleaded guilty to recklessly endangering another person, along with careless driving and disregarding a traffic lane. Although the man’s care at a long-term neurological care facility will be paid through an insurance settlement, it is still unclear how the family will pay for long-term care costs that approach $1 million.

The 23-year-old woman who caused the crash had been drinking alcohol, and she had also consumed the prescription painkiller hydrocodone. She was driving about 85 mph on I-90 when she fell asleep, hitting the man and causing him to collide head-on with a tractor trailer.

Physicians say the man will likely remain in intensive care at a rehabilitation facility at least until the summer of 2013, if not longer. Although fundraisers have been held to assist the family, it is possible that they will need to file a personal injury civil suit against the driver of the vehicle that caused the wreck.

The 51-year-old Ashtabula man was driving to work in June 2011 when he was involved in the tragic car accident. Formerly a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician, he is now wheelchair-bound because of his physical and mental impairments. It is unlikely that the man will ever walk again, and he sometimes has difficulty processing verbal information. His left hand is almost entirely paralyzed and his head droops because his neck muscles are weak.

The family says their lives have changed dramatically since the fateful accident. The man’s wife and two children, ages 14 and 11, have moved out of their family home. The family now lives in a modest one-story building just a couple miles from the care facility. Additional costs will be associated with widening doors and building a wheelchair ramp, according to the family. The family also has purchased a $40,000 wheelchair-accessible van.

Source: Go Erie.com, “Erie-area family copes with life after tragedy,” Gerry Weiss, July 16, 2012