On life and liberty

My mother-in-law and father-in-law and 7 of their 11 children.  From left to right, B, P, C, father-in-law, mother-in-law, L, Mr, Ma and my husband

My mother-in-law and father-in-law and 7 of their 11 children. From left to right, B, P, C, father-in-law, mother-in-law, L, Mr, Ma and my husband

This weekend marks the 8th month anniversary of the death of my mother-in-law.  Her death has been a devastating blow to this family and there is no closure yet, no peace.  She died as a result of injuries suffered when a police vehicle plowed into the moto that she and my father-in-law were driving through an intersection.  Her body was caught in the front grill of the truck and carried another 200 meters, then it fell to the ground and was run over.  The police vehicle has been estimated as traveling more than 200 mps.  As the police hit the back of the moto, it spun around and hit the side of the truck.  My father-in-law flew into the air and landed on his back, fortunately out of the path of the truck.

Both were taken to the hospital.  My father-in-law was released the next day and arrested by police waiting at the hospital door.  The law here is that all parties involved in an accident are detained and the vehicles impounded while an official investigation takes place.  The officer had already posted bail and was out on the streets on active duty by this time.  It took us 24 hours to come up with the 8000 pesos for my father-in-law’s bail.  During his incarceration, he was not even given a glass a water, nor his pain medications.

Immediately upon his release, he returned to the hospital.  My mother-in-law meanwhile had been transferred to the regional hospital.  The small hospital she had first been admitted to said she would be fine in a few days, however they didn’t have the staff to operate on her shattered leg.  Thus, the transfer.  She was conscious and in extreme pain, however the small hospital did not take x-rays of her bruised sides and therefore missed the fact that her 2 broken ribs had punctured her pancreas and she was bleeding internally.

When she arrived at the regional hospital, she was rushed into surgery.  She had been 24 hours without any sort of treatment besides a seeping bandage on her leg. Her condition was upgraded to grave, life-threatening.  She had severe head injuries and her arterial vein of her leg was severed. Not only was her pancreas in pieces but a large section of her liver was damaged.  She lapsed into a coma. We contacted her children in the States and told them to come if they could.

We waited three days at the hospital.  She was now on artificial respiration.  She was authorized to be transferred to Léon, however her doctors did not think she would survive the trip, so she was not moved.

Her best friend Doña T came to visit and stayed with her for over and hour, talking with her and encouraging her to open her eyes.  Her eyes fluttered.  Within an hour, she had returned to consciousness.

Meanwhile, unexpectedly, her son J, who she hadn’t seen in 18 years, contacted me through the miracle of Facebook.  My husband and I hadn’t heard from J since we left Virginia, in nearly 5 years.  J was living in Tamaulipas, near the Texas border and wanted to talk with my husband.  We immediately called him and made arrangements that he come to see his mother.  He was on the bus that night. He arrived the day my mother-in-law was released from ICU and he was able to visit her.

Now that she was no longer in ICU, but still needed around-the-clock attention, and the family was required to provide someone to care for her.  Her daughters, L and P, were the primary caregivers, however the daughters-in-law, G and myself were also pressed into service.  My shift was that Saturday, 8 pm until 8 am.

It was exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  When I arrived, she was conscious and alert, however wasn’t able to speak.  I jabbered for several hours about the PAN meeting I had gone to in her stead and various bits of gossip she had missed out on during her hospital stay.  However, she became weaker and I noticed she had an extremely high fever.  When she drifted off, I went to the nurses’ station and asked that someone please come and look at her.  They took her temperature and said she needed a specific medicine immediately.

I texted her son B who was staying in the albergue (beds provided for family members of patients).  He had to go to an all-night pharmacy several miles away for this medicine as the pharmacy at the hospital was closed for the night.  While we waited for him to return, the nurse gave me a bowl of water and a cloth and told me to try and get her temperature down using wet compresses.   The elderly woman in the next bed also had an extremely high temperature and her husband and I took turns at the sink in our battle against the raging infections.

The medicine arrived and was administered, however the relief was temporary.  In the wee hours of the morning, she was again feverish.  Meanwhile, our elderly neighbor died and her body removed to make room for a new patient, whose was in agony and extremely vocal about it.

My mother-in-law lingered another day and all her family that was present in town were able to make their last farewells.  She was conscious briefly at the end, made her confession and received the last rites.  Then she was gone.

We weren’t given any time to grieve.  Now that she had died, the charges against my father-in-law were upgraded to homicide and his bail revoked.  The police had begun their cover-up while we were still at the hospital.  They claimed that my father-in-law was racing the police car across the intersection, that my mother-in-law did not have her helmet on, that there was some urgent police business that necessitated the excessive speed of the police vehicle, that the moto hit the police car first, that my father-in-law was to blame in his wife’s death.

It was a race against time.  My mother-in-law’s body was taken to Yuriria for autopsy and would be released that afternoon.  All of her children needed to make statements with a lawyer immediately or my father-in-law would be rearrested.  We needed to make arrangements with the funeral director and inform the family in Cerano. And to top it all off, Jesus had sent another lawsuit that needed immediate answer, or I too would be in jail.

Now, 8 months later, this court case is still in limbo.  The police are still denying fault even though we have submitted a video taken seconds after the accident that refute the officer’s version of events.  Witnesses that at first were willing to testify have been ‘convinced’ otherwise.  Anonymous threats have been made against the family as well should we continue with the lawsuit.  And the thing is, at no time were we asking for monetary damages, even though my mother-in-law was the sole income provider for her household.  Nor were hospital or funeral expenses present in the demands.  There is not even a demand for a new moto as the it was completely destroyed in the accident.  All that we are asking for is justice.  That my father-in-law does not go to jail on charges of involuntary manslaughter for the death of his wife.  That these charges brought against him by the police officer that drove over my mother-in-law are dropped.  Seems like we are whistling in the wind for all that we are heard.

The police officer, who is identifiable from the video, has been transferred to another place.  In my opinion, for our family, that is for the best.  The anger and grief his careless actions have caused has left this family with bitterness and rage.  Should this police officer be seen by any of us, there is no telling what might be attempted and with what result.

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15 Comments

Filed under Death and all its trappings, Health, Safety and Security

15 responses to “On life and liberty

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