Posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2019. 6:06 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: “If you drink, don’t drive.”
Despite the truism, so many defy it, with varying degrees of result.
But in the case of 54-year-old Carlos Martinez, those consequences were fatal for two passengers – sisters 26-year-old Cindy and 16-year-old Liarinette Cowo of San Jose Succotz, Cayo District, who drowned while trapped in his sinking vehicle in the Mopan River last October 6 – and will now cost him financially.
The young women were being driven home by Martinez, who according to attorney Kareem Musa admitted under cross-examination in the court of Justice Shona Griffith that he had been drinking – and had just taken three tequila shots 10 minutes before setting out on the George Price Highway.
The girls’ father, Paulino Cowo, who was a dependent of the elder sister, Cindy, sued Martinez in the court’s civil jurisdiction. She worked in Belmopan as a restaurant waitress, making $180 a week.
Explains Musa, “… [Cindy] used to assist her father with the household expenses and so in a case like that you are allowed to bring a case under the Torts Act for a dependent… [Justice Griffith] found that Mister Carlos Martinez, his judgment was impaired as a result of consuming alcohol on that night and she found that he was fully responsible for plunging that motor vehicle into the Mopan River. And so in that regard, the family has received their justice. There is no amount of money, as you know that can bring back anybody’s loved one…”
The judge, applying a special formula, assessed $31,000 in general damages based on 11 years’ worth of potential earnings, and $5,000 in special damages for funeral costs.
Martinez, represented by Hurl Hamilton, essentially admitted liability by confirming that he was drinking and therefore had his judgment impaired when he set out on the road with the Cowo sisters, as opposed to having any faults in the vehicle that could have caused the accident.
The contractor/construction worker had nothing to say as he left court. He will likely consider his next options while awaiting a criminal trial concerning the incident.
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