EL PASO, Texas - A cautionary tale for uninsured drivers and those of us who cross paths with them everyday.
The daughter of a man who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident wrote an email to ABC-7 this week. That email, from 48-year-old Jose Rodriguez's daughter, talked about the difficult time her family has had both emotionally and financially since her dad had his leg amputated after being hit by one of what's believed to be thousands of uninsured motorists in the Borderland.
"In the beginning, I just wished I was dead," said El Pasoan Jose Rodriguez, whose life changed forever about 11 months ago, in the blink of an eye."
about 11 months ago, el pasoan jose rodriguez's life changed forever in the blink of an eye. "Out of nowhere, this car came out as if he had waited for me or something."
It was back on August 12th of last year when Rodriguez was riding his motorcycle down Dale Road, just a couple of blocks from his home, when a car pulled out of a driveway and struck him right on his right leg. He said he knew immediately that something was very wrong.
"Not a chance in the world to even brake," Rodriguez said. "Next thing I know, I'm on the floor. I wanted to get up but I couldn't cause after that I looked down and my foot was hanging down."
The impact nearly tore his leg off just below the knee. A week later it had to be amputated. Since then, despite hiring two different attorneys, the bills have continued to pile up.
"I owe about $120,000 just in medical bills, not counting medications, the therapy i've had to take," Rodriguez said. "Everything has been coming out of my pocket. I'm broke."
The driver who hit Rodriguez, El Pasoan Salvador Meneses, who is in his mid-20's, was uninsured. We went to his door to ask him why he didn't have insurance and what he plans to do about the situation, but no one answered.
"I do get emotional," Rodriguez said. "Depression kicks in sometimes."
Rodriguez's 18-year-old daughter Stephanie said she was "devastated" by what happened to her father. She had to leave high school in California during her senior year to take care of him and she had this to say to all the uninsured drivers out there.
"Be careful out there because you might end up hitting somebody," she said with tears in her eyes.
Her Dad added: "The city can force you to pay a traffic fine. If you don't pay it you go to jail. The state can force you to pay a surcharge. The federal government can force you to pay child support. But me, myself, who am I going to force to pay me for my damages?"
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, more than 14-percent of El Pasoans do not have at least liability insurance, which is required by the state and punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 if you are caught without it.
As for Rodriguez, he said he hopes to find an attorney that can help him get his medical bills paid, but he continues to caution everyone against driving without insurance.