A bicyclist who lost his left leg below the knee from injuries he suffered after being struck by a big rig fought back tears as he told a jury Tuesday about his struggles to cope with his injuries and lead a normal life as a father and husband.
Testifying in trial of his Los Angeles Superior Court negligence suit against transportation company Landstar Ranger Inc., 21-year-old Alan Casillas said he quit college and has been unable to return to work in construction because of the pain he suffers and the difficulty he has getting around.
“It has changed my whole life completely,” Casillas said “Everything I do is different now. If I go a long distance I need a wheelchair.”
Casillas said he was riding his bicycle along Tweedy Boulevard to a friend’s home to play a video game on Dec. 7, 2012. Francisco Azurdia, the big rig driver, turned right onto Alameda Street, and the truck went over part of the sidewalk, striking Casillas and running over his left leg, he said.
Defense attorneys admitted liability on the part of Landstar Ranger. The trial is being held to determine the amount of Casillas’ damages.
Before the accident, Casillas said he had dropped out of high school to earn more money for his family. He said he was skilled in laying tile floors and pouring concrete. He also said he was athletic and liked to ride his bike long distances as well as run.
Casillas’ attorney, Brian Panish, played for jurors a 911 call made by a man who came to Casillas’ aid after the accident. As the caller urged the dispatcher to send help quickly, the wailing voice of Casillas could be heard in the background.
“A truck ran over a guy right now at Alameda and Tweedy,” the caller said. ‘We can see the bone.”
Casillas said his screams underscored his duress.
“I was in a lot of pain,” he said. “I was screaming for help. I saw my leg, there was a lot of blood.”
Asked by Panish if he had ever experienced such distress before, Casillas replied, “No, I haven’t. I thought I was going to die out there.”
Casillas said the reality of his injuries became apparent when his discolored leg was evaluated by physicians at a hospital.
“A doctor came in and said I was getting gangrene and that they might have to amputate, because it could spread to my whole body,” Casillas said. “It was swollen and I could see it wasn’t going to get any better.”
He said he lost all feeling in his toes, and doctors eventually removed his leg. The aftermath was difficult, he said.
“It was the worst feeling,” Casillas said. “Every night I would cry myself to sleep or wake up crying.”
Casillas said he had nightmares that included worms eating his leg and another in which he was walking along when his limb disappeared.
Casillas said he found it difficult walking far on crutches and looked forward to having a prosthetic leg. But two leg replacements only caused him more pain while walking, he testified.
Panish showed jurors photos of Casillas on outings and at home with the plaintiff’s wife and daughter. He said his spouse also has paid a price for what happened to him.
“It’s made it hard on both of us,” he said. “We both have to adapt to this.”
Casillas said he can drive with his disability, but is reluctant to go anywhere with his daughter without assistance. He said he sometimes finds it difficult to play with her.
“I can’t keep up with her,” he said.
Casillas, who entered the courtroom in a wheelchair and was helped onto the witness stand by Panish, said he is embarrassed that he needs such assistance. He also said he is saddened by the appearance of his leg since the amputation.
“It depresses me, I try not to look at it,” he said.
Casillas filed his lawsuit in February 2013.
Cross-examined by defense attorney James Yukevich, Casillas said his strong family ties, his marriage, fatherhood and his obtaining of his GED were all been positive developments he experienced after his accident.
— City News Service