SUV driver to pay $17.5 million for crash that paralyzed football player, City of Abilene not liable

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) - The driver of an SUV that crashed into a City of Abilene garbage truck, paralyzing an Abilene High School football player upon impact, was found liable for $17.5 million in damages during a civil trial that began Monday. 

Jury members returned their verdict Friday afternoon, saying Jesus Verastegui was the sole party liable for the crash that put Cory Almanza, then 17, into a coma for months in 2015. The City of Abilene was found not liable for the crash, and neither are Verastegui's parents, though they were named in the lawsuit. 

Almanza was a passenger in Verstegui's SUV when the vehicle slammed into the side of a garbage truck near the intersection of North 1st Street and Mockingbird Lane on May 5, 2015. 

Court documents state Verstegui attempted to change lanes to avoid the truck, which was turning into a parking lot. 

The lawsuit, filed by Almanza's mother, alleged the City of Abilene is liable because the garbage truck driver failed to drive in a single lane, changed lanes when unsafe, turned improperly to make a wide right turn, failed to signal his turn, and failed to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles. The City has been cleared of these allegations. 

Allegations included against Verstegui state he failed to control his speed, failed to pass safely, and made a faulty evasive action.

Verstegui's parents were also named in the lawsuit because they negligently entrusted their vehicle to their son, but they have been cleared of these allegations as well. 

Court documents state over $8 million is needed for Almanza's medical care, nearly $1 million is needed for his loss of earning potential, and "damages for past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and disability totals $8,000,000."

The exact amount of damages Verstegui must pay is $17,450,438.00.


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