It is late afternoon of February 21 earlier this year.
In the soft light of the setting sun, David Sankar, 69, and his wife, Leanna, 61, are going for their usual walk along Capriata Road in La Pastora, Santa Cruz, a scenic Northern Range community.
The couple who have no children, had moved to this area “where it’s nice and quiet” to spend what they thought would be a happy retirement. Sankar, a former contractor, is active and healthy and spends a lot of time in his garden and going fishing. Leanna, a real estate agent, is also fit and healthy.
On their return from their walk that fateful afternoon, two driveways from their house, an unexpected incident happens that turns their comfortable retirement world completely upside down and changed their lives.
Out of the blue, a car driven by a drunk policeman rams into the couple walking single file at the side of the road.
The accident left Sankar permanently injured and almost unable to walk and Leanna with an injured knee.
Within months, their “nest egg” of savings was depleted by hospital bills.
“We have spent over $1 million in health care. Everything we had put aside for our retirement is gone,” Leanna said.
Sankar, who suffered multiple injuries, including a broken pelvis, spent 53 days at Westshore Medical, a private facility, with over a month in the Intensive Care Unit.
“He developed pneumonia and nearly died from a respiratory arrest,” Leanna said.
Leanna spent 18 days at hospital and had a plate inserted in her knee with four screws. “I have four big holes in my leg. I have to use a walking stick now. I was fine before that,” she said. Sankar has been discharged and is receiving home care.
No sobriety test
There was a scary time at the hospital when Leanna thought he would not make it.
“Six o’clock one morning he flat-lined, he stopped breathing,” she said.
Sankar has to be in diapers now and moves around in a wheelchair. “He walks a little but not for very long. He was a healthy, strong man before that. We have a piece of land that was he constantly gardening. He often went fishing and did contracting for years. So, this is a major blow for him,” Leanna said.
Two botched surgeries left Sankar in need of a third one but the couple just does not have the $170,000 for this. Leanna, who now takes care of her husband “24/7” with the aid of nurses from Westshore Medical, still has difficulty walking.
To date, the couple have gotten absolutely no justice, compensation or any form of redress, whatsoever, from the police.
“They just took a report and that was it. To this day, they’re still investigating the accident, even though there were witnesses,” Leanna said. The officer, 33, had hit another vehicle before he hit the Sankars.
“I was knocked unconscious but when I awoke, I saw someone standing over me who said she was a nurse, and other people from the neighbourhood, and I heard my husband bawling.
“The young man whose vehicle was hit by the officer said he saw him barrelling down the road and he pulled to the side to avoid a head- on collision but the officer still hit him and ricocheted across to us and hit us from behind,” Leanna said. The officer was allegedly allowed to drive back to his station unassisted and was not given a sobriety test.
“I was told he was put on desk duty,” Leanna said. The matter was simply listed as an ongoing police investigation.
Hell on earth
Leanna told the Express her husband asked her to forgive the young officer but feels a need for justice as well.
“The police are doing what they normally do in these situations, which is bounce around and ask irrelevant questions. When I thought the report was completed last month, they came back to ask me who told me when I came out of unconsciousness that I was in an accident.
“This has turned our world upside down. Are the police there to protect and serve citizens or their own? They can’t be bouncing down people and there’s no redress for these atrocities committed by them. This place is starting to resemble hell on earth,” Leanna said.
The Sankars are Christians and Leanna now puts all her hope in the God she serves.
“I am now waiting on God to fix everything,” she said.