A Colorado man is suing his rescuers for $500,000 after he was pulled out of a submerged car during the historic floods in September.
Roy Ortiz's vehicle plunged into a creek in Broomfield County after hitting a portion of washed out road, a local ABC affiliate reported.
According to his attorney, Ed Ferszt, divers with North Metro Fire Rescue took longer than they should in rescuing Mr. Ortiz, because they hadn't realized he was still alive in the car. Mr. Ortiz had found an air pocket to breathe for the two hours he was trapped underwater.
"Of course he was thankful because those divers did have a major role to play in saving his life that day," Mr. Ferszt said, according to ABC. "That doesn't negate the fact that a mistake may have been made. I can understand why there's a lot of furor over people thinking that he's biting the hand that feeds. Does that mean that officers of North Metro Fire are above reproach?
"If divers went into the water in an attempt to locate Roy and they didn't see him there, as dangerous a job that it is, and we are thankful for first responders, that was a mistake. And the legal term for that mistake is negligence," he added.
Mr. Ortiz claims he's racked up $40,000 in medical bills since the incident and has difficulty sleeping.
"I'm really happy to be alive," Mr. Ortiz told the station. "But I'm looking for some help with my bills."
"I don't have the money to pay," he said. "People react like I am a bad man for filing this. It's not like that. I just tried to defend my rights. My name is being defamed; I've been working for the same company for 17 years, I'm co-pastor of a church in Aurora. People know me. I've never caused trouble."
Mr. Ferszt said they are also suing the insurance companies of two drivers who hit the wash out after Mr. Ortiz, pushing his vehicle further into the creek, ABC reported.
He said they don't plan to seek the full $500,000.
"Obviously, I don't contend that Mr. Ortiz suffered actual damages in the amount of $500,000," he told the station. "But governmental immunity notice required you to state a figure."
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