Wreck at Maricamp Road and SE 31st Street
By Katie Pohlman
A family of six permanently affected by a 2013 car crash will receive almost $52 million in damages from an auto negligence lawsuit. Ervin Gonzalez, one of the family’s lawyers, said he believes it is the largest verdict ever handed down in Marion County.
Yolanda Aldana, Leyvier Herrera, Kevin Martinez, Anthony Martinez, Alejandro Aldana and Kenneth Herrera were awarded a total of $51,813,591 in their lawsuit against Nathan Pyles. In December 2013, Yolanda Aldana and her four children – Kevin, Anthony, Alejandro and Kenneth – were sitting at a red light in their 2011 white Nissan Sentra at the intersection of Southeast Maricamp Road and 31st Street.
Pyles, who was driving a 2012 black BMW, failed to brake and slammed into the Nissan, making it stand upright on its front bumper and slide into a 2011 white Dodge Caravan that was sitting in front of it. The children were all 12 or younger at the time. Kenneth Herrera was 23 months old.
Yolanda and Kenneth were taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center while the other three were transported to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville. Kenneth was later taken to Shands in critical but stable condition.
The mother and children suffered numerous injuries, including traumatic brain injuries; spinal, rib, femur and pelvic fractures; collapsed lung; spleen and liver lacerations; and blunt force trauma. Kenneth, now 7, is a paraplegic with no use of his hands or bladder and bowel control. Anthony, 14, will require several more surgeries for his sustained injuries.
“The two boys have catastrophic injuries,” Gonzalez said. “Not serious, not severe, catastrophic. (And that’s) defined by the doctors, not me.”
The family’s past medical bills total $500,592.72, according to court documents. Future medical costs for Yolanda, Kenneth and Anthony are predicted to be about $15.5 million.
Gonzalez said he and his co-counsels – Katie Glynn, John Piccin and Patrick Montoya – were expecting the $52 million awarded or even more. Gonzalez said when you think about the costs of keeping Kenneth alive, the care for the others and the potential lost income, $52 million doesn’t seem like a high verdict at all. But they are still happy with the result.
“Frankly, we’re grateful to the jury and civil justice system that will allow these family members to get a little big of dignity and respect to survive these life-altering injuries,” Gonzalez said. After a six-day trial, the jury spent two hours deliberating before returning the verdict.
About a week after the crash in December 2013, Pyles was ticketed for careless driving with serious bodily injuries and for not wearing a seat belt. He was adjudicated guilty on both counts, according to court documents.
Pyles told Florida Highway Patrol troopers, when interviewed after the crash, that he didn’t remember the crash or how fast he was going. The speed limit in that area is 55 mph.