The driver whose car plunged and almost disappeared down a large sinkhole in Orléans two years ago is suing the city for $550,000 damages.
Juan Pedro Unger, his wife, Jennifer, and their young daughter have all filed lawsuits related to the trauma that Unger says he suffered when he became trapped in his 2009 Hyundai as it was slowly swallowed by Highway 174 on Sept. 4, 2012.
Unger, suspended by his seatbelt, managed to free himself, climb out of his car and cling to the wall of the hole before being grabbed by two passersby who hauled him to safety.
An ambulance, coincidentally passing the scene, stopped to assess Unger’s injuries as he watched his car slide further into the hole.
The lawsuit filed by the Unger family claims that the sinkhole was caused by the collapse of a section of large metal storm-water pipe below the road and the city was negligent in not maintaining it properly.
The pipe was “severely corroded” claims the lawsuit and the city was also negligent in not warning motorists of the possible danger.
Unger suffered numerous physical and emotional injuries for which he needs ongoing therapy, claims the lawsuit
He suffered whiplash, cuts to his abdomen and legs and ongoing restricted mobility and pain in his upper body.
The trauma-induced after effects Unger suffers include sleeping difficulties, nightmares, depression, anxiety and a fear of driving.
“Mr. Unger has sustained, and will continue to sustain, psychological distress and loss of enjoyment of life,” says the lawsuit. “He is unable to participate in recreational, social and sporting activities … in particular he has been unable to enjoy recreational, social and athletic activities with his young daughter.”
The accident has caused Unger to lose income and, says the suit, added a heavy domestic load on his wife Jennifer who has been forced to take leave from work.
The city says it will defend the lawsuit.