Man responsible for crash that crippled local paramedic sentenced
Alec Nava, 28, who pleaded guilty earlier to intoxication assault on a emergency worker in connection with the August 2017 traffic accident that left Waco paramedic Rory Barros, 32, critically injured was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday.
After Nava was sentenced, Barros, who said he bears no ill will toward the defendant, said he hopes the jury’s decision sends a message about the potential consequences of drinking and driving.
Assistant District Attorney Danielle London echoed his comments.
The paramedic nearly died twice after the accident, she said, and if he had, Nava would have been tried for intoxication manslaughter and would have faced a 99-year sentence.
Jurors had to sign off on the guilty plea before deciding on the maximum sentence Wednesday.
Deliberations in the punishment trial started late Wednesday morning after the prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments.
Jurors returned the sentence around 12:30 p.m.
Barros, 32, who lost his left leg in the near-fatal testified Tuesday that the accused drunken driver behind the wheel of the car that struck him “cost me three years of my life (and) cost me my job.”
I can’t say I don’t have hard feelings, but I can’t say he’s a person I wouldn’t help," said Barros, who can no longer work at the job for which he trained intensely for several years.
Barros was among the first responders dispatched at around 2:40 a.m. Aug. 19, 2017 to the scene of the initial accident in the Loop 340 median in Waco.
East Texas Medical Center paramedics were performing first aid on a person injured in that crash when the vehicle police say Nava was driving struck Barros, knocking him 20 feet into the air and dragged him across the pavement.
“The car was coming right at us,” Barros testified.
“It was a matter of seconds. I remember impact, then being drug across the road,” he said.
“I felt my whole body on fire,” he said.
Dashcam video played for the jury at the start of the day showed Barros pushing his partner out of the path of the oncoming car moments before he was struck.
Barros, who suffered catastrophic injuries and burns, was taken to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center.
Earlier Dr. Joshua Houser, who was on duty in the hospital’s emergency room when Barros was brought in, testified that the paramedic was in bad shape when he arrived.
“I thought Rory was going to die. He was bleeding to death.”
Barros began to cry as he described his first Christmas at home after months in the hospital.
“It was the first time I’d been back to my house and I couldn’t walk and had to sit in my chair,” he said.
“We had no healthcare and my wife had to do daily dressing changes.”
Barros wife, Amy, an ICU trauma nurse, testified before her husband, telling the jury about the call she got from Rory’s partner after the accident.
She wept as she talked about arriving at the Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center where her husband was being treated.
“They wouldn’t let he see him,” she testified.
Barros spent more than four months in the hospital, and endured more than 15 surgeries and the amputation of his left leg.
The state rested late in the afternoon and the defense called several witnesses, the last of whom was Nava, who admitted he was guilty.
He said he was going through a type of depression at the time of the accident.
Barros, meanwhile, is going back to work as an EMS Dispatcher.
He began training for the new position last week.