Maria Lemus’ teenage son used to love soccer. He used to have friends. He used to be a normal kid.But since he became a victim of Ethan Couch’s drunken driving, 18-year-old Sergio Molina has been paralyzed and requires around-the-clock care.
He can communicate only by blinking.
“People say we have to die to go to hell,” his mother said. “To me, I’ve already been there.”
Lemus spoke briefly about her family’s experience from her front door step Saturday, a day after attending a court hearing where a judge transferred Couch’s case to adult court.
After the hearing, her oldest son, Alex Lemus, stood with his brother in front of TV cameras and made a compelling argument for why the news media should pay attention to his family – not the Couches.
“What you see here today, this is my brother,” he said, referring to Molina, who sat passive in a wheelchair. “Take a look. Y’all ain’t even gone to my house yet. You haven’t been to my house to see … every day what we have to do with my brother in order for him to stay stable like this. Alive. Breathing.”
Maria Lemus said she wanted people to know who her son was before the accident.
He had so many friends that when he was hospitalized after he was thrown from Couch’s truck, the waiting room overflowed with supporters.
“Just because he was there that night doesn’t mean he was the same as Ethan Couch,” she said.
Couch’s case drew enormous attention because he received 10 years’ probation after a defense expert testified that he had been so coddled by his wealthy family that he suffered from “affluenza.”
Interest in the teenager was renewed last year when he fled to Mexico after a video surfaced that appeared to show him playing beer pong. His probation prohibited him from drinking alcohol.
But what’s often forgotten in Couch’s winding tale are the people most affected by his 2013 DWI crash. Four people died. Others, like Molina, were seriously injured.
Maria Lemus said her son wasn’t insured when the crash happened, so he was kicked out of the hospital after about a month.
“We called Ethan Couch’s family, begging for help,” she said. “They refused. They say, ‘There’s nothing we can do. Go ahead and call a lawyer.’ I said, ‘But we need the help now.’ ”
The family later received $2 million in a settlement, but Maria Lemus questions whether her son may have better recovered if he had been able to stay at the hospital. The critical time for treating brain damage is in the first few months, she said.