Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Valet Victim
It was an accident caught on camera, yet years after an elderly woman was hurt outside a South Florida casino, she still hasn't been paid a dime. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Thelma Higby is 91 years old.
She still suffers every day from an accident three years ago at the Isle of Capri Casino in Pompano Beach.
Thelma Higby, Accident Victim: "Well I thought I was a goner, to tell you the truth."
Security cameras were rolling as Thelma arrived for a Mother's Day outing.
Her son-in-law and daughter were getting her walker out of the trunk while Thelma was holding onto the back door waiting for them.
Suddenly, the valet starts to drive off.
Thelma falls, is caught by the floorboard and dragged.
The valet stops but puts the car in reverse instead of park, and it starts rolling toward Thelma's head.
Thelma Higby, Accident Victim: "He came within an inch of running over my head."
Carmel Cafiero: "And you saw that tire coming toward you?"
C"Coming toward me, and I started saying my prayers, because I thought, I was praying that I would at least go to heaven."
Daughter Elaine Dadah believes her husband's quick action saved her mother's life.
Elaine Dadah, Daughter: "And Bruce pulled her head out so that the wheel didn't hit her head."
As Thelma was taken away by rescue, you can see the pain on her face.
Thelma Higby, Accident Victim: "I had fractures all over my body."
Her family believed the casino's insurance company would cover the medical bills and her need for round-the-clock care.
But that didn't happen.
Bruce Dadah, Son-in-law: "Their insurance company said, 'Oh, we don't pay anything until the end.' And I says, 'Well, how am I supposed to do all this?' 'Well, that's your problem.'"
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "So Thelma sued the casino. There was a trial and a jury awarded her $550,000. That was back in August. So far, Thelma hasn't seen a penny."
The casino turned down our request for an interview or a statement.
But attorneys for the casino did ask for a new trial. They argued the video of the accident should not have been shown during the trial, and that it was used to "inflame the jury against the defendant." That motion was denied, and now they are appealing.
Thelma says she's suspicious of all the legal delays.
Thelma Higby, Accident Victim: "Well they think, she's old, she's going to die. But I'll tell you, my grandmother was 105, little old Irish lady, and I'm going to be the same as her."
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