Victim In Lawrence Taylor Accident Speaks Out

November 19th, 2009 by

DORAL (CBS4) ― The 51-year-old Hialeah Gardens air conditioning technician whose van was struck by football legend Lawrence Taylor says that he was injured in the accident on the Palmetto Expressway two Sundays ago. And Manuel Villari Castillo adds that Taylor should have stopped to help him, instead of leaving the scene of the accident.

“The guy,” said Castillo, “he never stopped. And I checked him outside my van. My van, it made noises when I was hit, like bam, bam, bam.”

Castillo spoke exclusively with CBS4′s Peter D’Oench at his apartment, in front of his Boynton Beach attorneys, Howard Kanner and Eric Pintaluga.

“Are you in pain?” D’Oench asked Castillo. “Yeah,” he said. “Where do you hurt?” asked D’Oench. “Right here, here and here,” said Castillo, pointing to stiffness and bruises on his back, shoulder and neck. He also said his fingers were cut and while he had no broken bones, he was seeing a series of doctors to see if he had any internal injuries or problems with his neck and back that would require long-term treatment. Castillo told D’Oench he also had trouble sleeping.

While Castillo spoke a few words in English, the rest of the interview was translated by Pintaluga. “He was extremely surprised that this accident happened,” said Pintaluga. “And he was very nervous. He says of course Mr. Taylor should have stopped. He was driving on three wheels and he doesn’t understand why he didn’t stop. There was plenty of room to pull over on the Palmetto and other people stopped. He feels very bad. He has three children. He can’t work. This was his work vehicle.”

“He says Lawrence Taylor knows he did not hit a guardrail,” said Pintaluga.

Kanner also showed D’Oench the damage to Castillo’s 1984 Ford Van. There is a large and long dent that runs the length of the vehicle on the passenger side. The lights on that side are also smashed out. Pintaluga is not sure if the vehicle can even be repaired.

“As you can see we will let the evidence speak for itself,” said Kanner. “There’s a tremendous amount of property damage to the vehicle. “Manuel was living the American dream. He had just started his own business and was working late on Sunday and was getting ready for Monday business when he was headed home on the Palmetto and was hit. It’s a horrible thing that has happened to him.”

Pintaluga and Kanner are considering filing a lawsuit against Taylor, in part because of Castillo’s lost wages since he’s been unable to work and because of fees he is having to pay doctors who are checking him out.

Last Friday, in another exclusive interview with CBS4, the NFL Hall of Famer told D’Oench he had to leave the scene of an accident on the Palmetto because it was too dangerous to stay there and he might have caused an accident by remaining on such a busy highway.

It was the first time the 50-year-old former linebacker had spoken on camera about the accident that happened about 6:35 on that Sunday night, Nov. 8th, as he was heading home from the Miami Airport. He had veered away from another car that had swerved towards him and inadvertently clipped the back of Manuel Castillo’s van, causing $9500 in property damage, according to police.

At their home in Pembroke Pines on Wednesday, Taylor’s wife Lynette told D’Oench that she would help Castillo. She said she would cover his uninsured expenses for his van. “I will even pay his deductible,” Taylor said. And she said she would help him get his van fixed at an auto body shop of her choice in Northwest Miami-Dade, Strong Auto Body at 16571 N.W. 27th Ave.

Lynette Taylor also said she would pay for a rental car for Castillo so he could go back to work. “If he has a valid credit card, and insurance and valid registration,” she said. “I will pay for his rental. I will go above and beyond what the insurance company will do.”

She said she was surprised that Castillo was claiming he was injured. “I wish him a speedy recovery if he is in fact injured,” she said. “But who am I to judge is pain?”

“A lot of people feel athletes like Lawrence get a free pass,” said Taylor. “I think a lot of time they get thrown under the bus.” She said even though she wasn’t on the highway with her husband, she feels he did the right thing. “I would have gone somewhere and assessed the damage and then gone from there.”

Last Friday, Lawrence Taylor told D’Oench, “I’m not even sure if I hit a vehicle. I don’t know what I hit.” At the time of the accident, Taylor told the Florida Highway Patrol he thought he had hit a guardrail.

“The law says I can seek safe harbour. You don’t have to stay on 826, a busy and dangerous highway, one of the most dangerous highways around, where there is 2 feet, maybe 3 feet of room in the outside lane,” said Taylor. “There’s no way I was going to stay put. There is no way I was going to stop.”

Taylor was cited for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, a 2nd degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of up to $500 and/or six months in jail. He was also arrested by an FHP officer and taken to the Miami-Dade Jail. “That’s where I put up $50, or 10 per cent of my $500 bond to get out. That was ridiculous.”

“There have been only three people in the history of Florida who have been arrested for misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident with property damage,” Taylor scoffed. “I can’t believe I was arrested. I’m going to fight this and I think and hope they will drop the charges.” He was also cited for careless driving.

“I went to the next exit,” said Taylor. “I had no tire, no brakes on one side. I had to veer away. I had no brakes. I was not on drugs. I was not impaired. My license was fine. My insurance was fine. My registration was fine. What was I running from? I would have to be the dumbest criminal in the world to do this on 3 wheels and no brake.”

Taylor says he tried to call Police. He said when he stopped by NW 122nd Street after the accident at 103rd street, “I asked people where I was. I was trying to call 911 when the cops arrived.” He took issue with FHP investigators, who said they had received no call from Taylor about the accident.

He said, “If I had stopped on the highway and someone came over the ridge and hit me, I would have been liable for that accident. I would have been held accountable. I would not have been exercising good judgment.”

D’Oench caught up with Taylor at the debut of the Jim McLean Signature golf course at Doral. While Taylor initially said he didn’t want to talk about this accident, he relented and spoke on camera for nearly five minutes.

“The important thing is that no one got hurt,” said Taylor before Castillo claimed he was injured. “And for future reference, if you see me in an accident, don’t look for me right there, look for me at the next exit, because that’s where I’ll be. That’s where it’s safe,” said Taylor.

Taylor, a linebacker for the New York Giants from 1981 to 1993, is considered to be one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the game. He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and also appeared on the eighth season of TV’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

After retiring from the NFL, Taylor was hired as a color commentator for the short lived “Toughman” show on the Fox network, football analyst for TNT’s “Sunday Night Football” and even appeared for a short time in the “WWF.” He also turned his attention to acting, appearing in such films as “Any Given Sunday,” “The Sopranos,” “The Waterboy” and the 2000 remake of “Shaft.”

His days on and off the field were sometimes checkered with drug use. In 1987, he admitted to and tested positive for cocaine use. He was suspended from football for 30 days the following year after failing a second drug test.


3 Responses

  1. johnny d

    iTS OFFICIAL LT sucks as a human. Besides who does he think he is the OBAMA of the highways?I personally would sue his ass off until he settles out of court. Is it just me or do you see a pattern here? for instance,we have a black president and now a large majority of black celebrities seem to think they have a free pass to behave badly?.?.?. I’ll get back WIT YA after i do some more research.

  2. LTW

    LT was high high high!!!!!

  3. Weedo

    At least he’ll help you when he breaks your leg.

    GO BIG BLUE!

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