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Alisal Union School District pays $7.75 million to special ed student severely injured in crash

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)-- Alisal Union School District's insurance carrier paid $7.75 million for injuries sustained during a crash in 2019 that caused permanent spinal and internal injuries to a special education student who was 10-years-old.

On March 15, 2019, around 8 a.m., the district's special education van was carrying four students and a van driver Andrea Salviejo, a student assistant when it was hit head-on by an oncoming passenger vehicle driven by Antonio Gill, said Dunnion Law.

According to Dunnion Law even though Gill was found liable for the crash, both employees were found at fault for the accident itself.

“As parents, we entrust the school district and its employees to undertake our students’ physical safety as part of its fundamental responsibilities,” said Connell Dunnion, Esq., Managing Partner of Dunnion Law, the law firm that represented the student. “This case sadly underscores the devastating impact to students when the necessary precautions and protocols aren’t followed.”

Gill's insurance paid an added $100,000 to the student and her family.

The three other student passengers, who were properly secured, suffered less extensive injuries.

Even with the other student being secured, the case revealed that Salivejo and the student assistant did not ensure her seat belt was secured across her chest.

According to Dunnion Law as a result of the two school employee's failure to perform their duty "the student suffered classic pediatric lap belt injuries from the collision."

According to the settlement demand, the “seatbelt forced her internal organs into her spine…Her colon and intestines were ripped apart.”

After emergency surgery and multiple follow-up surgeries to repair damage and lacerations to her internal organs, the student will carry a large laparotomy scar across her stomach.

She also had her lower back break from the force exerted by the seatbelt that required multiple vertebrae to be fused with metal rods and screws.

Another surgery was also needed to repair a leak of cerebral spinal fluid that went untreated for almost three weeks.

“As a special needs student, she already faces several cognitive and learning challenges,” said Dunnion. “It’s devastating that this collision and the failure to follow basic safety precautions caused this child deep suffering, and adds significant physical burdens that will remain with her for the rest of her life.”

Alisal Union School District is saddened by the injury of one of its students sustained during a head-on collision on March 15, 2019. The accident occured when a privately-owned vehicle drove into the northbound lane of Natividad Road in which the District’s van was driving. The non-district driver who caused the head-on collision was found at fault for the accident. 

The Alisal Union School District’s insurance carrier reached a settlement with the family of the student who was a passenger in the van at the time of the accident. 

Alisal Union School District
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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23


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