ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Four teens in a stolen, speeding car crashed into a man who was on his way to work. Their worlds violently collided last August when the teens crashed into Ricky Melendez.
Now the families of the teens in the stolen car are getting an insurance payout, even though the teens caused the crash.
Melendez, meanwhile, has gotten nothing, despite being in a wheelchair with mounting medical bills.
The crash happened August 6 at the intersection of Tampa Road and US 19. Early that morning, Melendez was sitting at a red light on his way to work. That’s when a 16-year-old, driving a stolen SUV, crashed into his car.
The teens had spent the night on a crime spree. Their combined criminal records already totaled more than 100 arrests.
The driver and two other teens died after the vehicle rolled several times and caught fire. Another teen was thrown from the windshield and survived.
Melendez also survived, but relives the nightmare daily.
"I think about it every single day," Melendez said. "I might not be here right now and it's really hard to think about something like that."
Despite a police report that says -- without question -- Melendez has no fault in the crash, his insurance company, GEICO, paid $20,000 to the families of the teenagers.
Melendez has gotten nothing.
"It just ripped my heart out. Punch in the gut," Melendez said.
While he had no fault in the crash, this likely also means his insurance will go up. His attorney, Mark Roman, is trying to figure out who filed the claim.
"I would love to look in the eyes of the family accepting the money and ask them if they can sleep at night," Roman said.
An attorney who is not involved in the case tells FOX 13 this happens more than one would think. Denis Devlaming says insurance companies will sometimes pay out settlements of so-called hush money to prevent larger claims down the road.
"They probably have a pamphlet that says, ‘Death? Anything under 50K? Write it!’" Devlaming supposed.
Meanwhile, Melendez’s medical bills pile up at well over $50,000. He says he doesn’t want to make a profit. He just wants people to know what can happen.
"I want to get the story out," he added.