A pothole on Diamond Head Road is being blamed for causing a moped crash that left a tourist from Alaska with brain damage. It’s going to cost Honolulu $1.7 million.
The Honolulu City Council approved a legal settlement last month with Loah McCoy stemming from a moped accident in 2008 in which she fractured her skull and shattered several other bones in her body.
Although McCoy wasn’t wearing a helmet, her attorneys say the pothole is the culprit. They say if the city had maintained the road as it should have, McCoy wouldn’t be disabled today.
“It was a very sad case,” said Mark Davis, the Honolulu attorney who represents McCoy. “It pretty much devastated her life.”
McCoy was in Honolulu on vacation in December 2008. At the time she was 49 years old.
On Dec. 2, McCoy and her two friends rented mopeds from Tours 4 Less, Discount Tours & Activities in Waikiki. The three rode their scooters east on Diamond Head Road when her front wheel hit a large pothole near Makalei Place.
McCoy veered toward the shoulder, hit a curb and was thrown from the scooter, landing on the left side of her head.
Under Hawaii law only people under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets while operating or riding a motorcycle or moped.
The accident put McCoy in a coma. Court records said she suffered skull fractures and several broken bones, including to her left arm, collarbone and ribs. McCoy also had a brain hemorrhage along with injuries to her eye, spine and lungs, which resulted in respiratory failure.
McCoy was in the hospital for six weeks, and was still going through bouts of physical therapy even as a November 2013 trial date was pending. She has vision, hearing and speech impairments, problems with her gait associated with a brain injury, memory loss, a droopy face and chronic pain, according to records.
Her mother, Rosalie Nadeau, is once again her daughter’s legal guardian, and Davis said McCoy must rely on a caregiver for assistance.
Davis also called the $1.7 million settlement a “significant compromise,” noting that his initial claim was much larger.
“With what the city might have been facing I think it was a very reasonable compromise,” he said.
A message left with the city’s Corporation Counsel was not returned.
The pothole has been fixed.
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