Judge: Christopher Munch
Prosecutor: Timothy Lane
Case # 30 06CR02289
The day was July the 2nd. Life was going good for me. I had just married the love of my life a little over three months earlier. I had just landed my dream job, with a great starting salary and work that I enjoy. Little did I know that it was all going to be torn apart by a careless drunk.
The evening of July 2nd I went to a bar in Englewood CO called Blondie's Firehouse to have some drinks with my Co-Worker and friend Justin T. We were partying up a storm and had both consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. I was ready to go home, but realized, even in my inebriated state, that I was far too drunk to drive myself home. I decided that it would be best to call my wife who would be getting off of work soon and ask her to come get me. My wife (Julie) showed up at the bar as Justin T and I were just finishing off a plate of greasy nacho's and jalapeño poppers. We hung out for a while, talked and dared each other to sing Karaoke. Then it was time to go. The last thing I remember was walking out the door, and then waking up in the hospital two days later!
When I awoke I instantly knew that something was wrong. I was in a strange room, with many strange people and a few familiar ones. I could not feel my body and everything was incredibly hazy. When I tried to speak, I knew what I wanted to say but it came out garbled. I kept asking what had happened to me. Someone would tell me and a few minutes later I would forget. So I would ask again. Eventually I was able to retain the information.
Although I had been responsible and called for a ride home I would end up suffering worse consequences than had I attempted to drive myself home in my drunken condition. A careless drunk by the name of Mark Nigon had been drinking this Fourth of July weekend as well. He had decided that it would be a good idea to try to drive drunk from Lakewood CO, to Monument CO. This is approximately 80 miles away. Well Mark Nigon Did not make it even more than a mile away from his friend's house. In his drunken stupor he had turned off of Florida Ave and misjudged the median that separates Kipling. He began driving down Kipling going the wrong way and did not even realize that anything was wrong until the cops turned on their lights behind him and started chasing him. Mark Nigon, proceeded to flee from the cops by continuing around the bend at Kipling. Unfortunately we were coming the right way down the same stretch of road. My sober wife driving and myself drunk in the passenger seat, were drunk people should be. As the accident occurred on a blind corner my wife only had a second to react to Mark Nigon coming straight at us. She quickly swerved avoiding a head on collision. The result was Mark Nigon T-boning our Jeep Wrangler with his Dodge Ram 2500 and pinning me into the Jeep.
Nearly every bone in my right leg was broken, I had closed head trauma, my left foot was fractured and my right foot was shattered with pieces of metal sticking though it. I also sustained three hip fractures and two pelvic socket fractures. As I sat in the Jeep Screaming in pain and agony, one officer went to arrest Mark Nigon and the other went to stop Julie from her futile attempts of prying the shredded metal off of my broken body. Mark Nigon had a B.A.C. in excess of .20. An hour later the Paramedics would be able to pry the Jeep off of me and rush me to Swedish Medical Center, where the real pain and suffering could begin.
I awoke in I.C.U. to the site of my loved ones hovering around my bed crying. I was desperately trying to figure out what was going on through the haze of synthetic morphine, oxycontin, and perkeset. Doctors kept coming into the room and asking me questions about what kind of treatments I preferred. To me it sounded like they were speaking in a gibberish comparative to the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Eventually I asked my wife to just make the decisions for me as she was the only one I trusted at the time.
I.C.U was actually the easiest part of being in the hospital. There was enough pain medication to drown out the pain of multiple fractures and over 6 hours of surgery. The real trauma started after I was stabilized and moved to the multi-trauma unit. In trauma they start to cut the pain meds back and they also start to move you little by little. I remember one time the doctors came in and said that they needed to clean me because I had soiled myself. They told my mom to leave the room. I told them "no, she stays." I made her come over and hold my hand. I looked at her and said "this is going to hurt." They began to move me and the pain was so intense that I went into shock. My heart stopped momentarily and I was technically dead.
Events like this were not all that uncommon over the next month. I laid in bed waiting to heal, wondering what my life would be like, wondering what my relationship with my wife would be like, wondering if I would ever walk again, wondering if my job would still be there for me, wondering if my newly bought home would be foreclosed on, wondering when the pain would end. The pain seemed unending and I couldn't take it anymore. I devised several ways that my wife could kill me and I asked her repeatedly to execute them. I was not thinking about the effect that these requests would have on her. At the time I was just trying to figure out how to end the pain. I gave up on life. I stopped eating; I stopped responding to the nurses and doctors. I was angry at my wife for refusing to kill me. All I wanted was to die and have all of the pain and suffering be over with.
My wife never left my side and as a result she was forced to quit her job. As a result of this our financial situation was thrown into turmoil. Our bills became past due. Our house came into real danger of being foreclosed upon. All the while Mark Nigon had been released from jail the day after the accident and was enjoying his wife and his family from the comfort of his newly bought home in Monument. The price of his bail was only $5000 which means that his wife only had to post $500 to get him out. Never once did Mark Nigon call to apologize for his actions. Never once did he send flowers that said I am sorry for what I did to you. Never did I receive a phone call from his family. Never did I receive a message saying that Mark Nigon was going to help us out financially for the turmoil that he had caused us. What Mark Nigon did do was spend his money hiring a lawyer to plea down his criminal charge. He hired one of the best attorneys in civil cases to protect his assets before I even made it to the rehab unit of the hospital. Even now with proof of nearly $200,000.00 in medical expenses caused directly by Mr. Nigon's carelessness, he still fights us so as to give us as little money as possible, while we wallow in the financial, physical and emotional turmoil that he created for us.
Mr. Nigon could easily sell his house and take care of our medical expenses and still have plenty of money left over to put a down payment on a smaller house, but he is set on continuing to watch us struggle just to get back to where we were before he took everything away from us.
Eventually, while Mr. Nigon was busy protecting himself I was moved to the Rehab unit of the hospital. This is were the real pain was about to begin. As my pain medication was being cut I was being forced to move more and more. Often times the pain would be so intense that I would pass out and break out into cold sweats. Every time I was in the wheel chair for more than a couple of minutes at a time I would get weak and struggle to get back into bed where I would promptly pass out from exhaustion.
After about a month I was cleared to leave the hospital and go home. I still needed a physical therapist and a nurse to make frequent home visits. I needed to hire a lawyer to deal with the massive amount of bills and bill collectors calling me and harassing me about paying my medical bills. I just couldn't understand why these bills were coming to me, it seemed like they should have been sent to Mark Nigon, but this is not the way things work. I was in a wheel chair and the people from my work were kind enough to build a ramp on the steps to my house so I could get in and out. They brought all of the furniture from my bedroom upstairs, down into the living room for me so that I could sleep on my bed. To add insult to injury, during this time my cat got out and was killed by a wild animal. My wife was in intense pain and would wake up screaming (this still occurs) every night from the nightmare of the accident. We removed the door to the bathroom so that I could squeeze my wheel chair in there to use it. We bought a bath bench and put it in the back yard so that every 3-4 days I could go out there and hose myself off. It wasn't a real shower but it was the best that I had. I mostly laid in bed every day staring at the T.V. screen, eating perkesets and avoiding the phone. I was embarrassed to be seen. Every time I would have to struggle to get from my wheel chair to the car to go to our numerous doctors appointments, the neighbors would all come to their window and stare at me. All the while finances continued to dwindle as my pain increased.
Through this time it was hard not to think about Mark Nigon, uninjured from the accident, sitting at home with his wife and three kids. Enjoying family time by the fireplace, going to church and doing family things. All the while I was in constant pain and was a burden to everyone around me. Mark Nigon was still free, living his life and only worried about what would eventually happen to him. The letters that we received from his lawyer began spouting what his eventual defense would seem to be made up of. Mark Nigon was a family man with three daughters and a wife. One of his daughters was blind and needed his income and care. We were made to feel like the bad guys now for filing a civil case against him to try to re-establish our lives. Mark Nigon is the bad guy though. Mark Nigon is the one who made a clear decision to get in a car drunk and nearly kill two innocent young people while knowing very well that it would put his entire family in jeopardy. Mark Nigon is playing politics while Julie and I scramble to pick up the shattered pieces of our lives.
Julie and I are not being unfair in anything that we are asking for. We are asking for Mark Nigon to cover the damages that he caused us and the potential future issue's that Julie's injuries and my injuries will likely bring. We are asking that he serve time in jail and not be let off light with work release. We are asking that for the rest of Mark Nigon's life, if he is ever allowed to drive again that he has a device on his car that will not allow the car to start unless he is sober. We are asking that a social worker be assigned to Visit Mark Nigon's house on a regular basis to ensure that his alcohol abuse is not resulting in him beating or abusing his wife and kids in any way. We are asking that Mark Nigon be served justice for the harm and trauma that he has caused us that will be with us for the rest of our lives. We may never be able to rebuild what he has taken away from us. To let him off with anything less than jail time would be a travesty.
Yes it is true that I will heal, but things will never be the same. I will always be afraid to go out on our roads. I will never again be able to enjoy the outdoor sports that I moved to Colorado to be a part of, with the same quality I used to. But most importantly I will never be able to forget Mark Nigon, I will remember his face every time the weather turns cold and I get that dull ache in my leg and hip, every time I see someone swerve on the road, every time I read a story about a drunk driver injuring or killing someone, every time I sit in the passenger seat of a car, every time my wife wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, and every time I have to take her to school or work because she is shaking in fear at the thought of driving. I spent three months of my life in a bed, a wheel chair and a walker. I will spend much more of my life in persistent pain. I do not think that it is too much to ask that Mark Nigon spends at least two years in jail, and is given enough punishment that he never forgets the pain and suffering that he has caused to my wife and I.
Thank you for your time