SAN DIEGO - The City Council Tuesday signed off on an $18.5 million legal settlement for a North Park youngster who was severely injured when he was struck by a city of San Diego trash truck.
San Diego police said Luke Acuna, then 9, was riding a skateboard along Meade Avenue when the northbound truck hit him at Kansas Street on Nov. 17, 2011.
The child fell under the trash truck and was crushed by the undercarriage. The boy's left leg was amputated, and he suffered internal injuries and broken bones.
The boy's attorney, Stephen Estey, alleged the driver of the garbage truck made a dangerous and illegal turn near an elementary school and struck the boy as he entered a crosswalk.
Estey says the city was negligent in hiring the driver, Shaun Bailey. He said the driver performed a dangerous "T-turn," which is one that he says the city trains and instructs drivers to execute. 10News also learned that Bailey has more than a dozen traffic violations and is still employed by the city.
The settlement was hammered out in May, and the City Council tentatively approved it in closed session one month later. Tuesday's final approval came without comment on the council's consent agenda.
Acuna is recovering but will have to deal with medical problems for the rest of his life, according to news reports.
"He's a dynamite boy and an inspiration," said Estey. "He's playing basketball. He's fishing. He's fighting even though he still has challenges."
Acuna plans to first buy a new wheelchair, an ADA-compliant home and vehicle. Estey says the money will provide a lifetime of medical care and compensate Acuna for what he has lost.
But Acuna is not focusing on what he has lost. He has his sights on something far bigger.
"I want to be an astronaut," he said.