Clarksburg family asks for help for son struck by police officer two years ago
Fundraising dinner-dance to be held Saturday in Gaithersburg
After two years and a disappointing lawsuit, the family of 14-year-old Luis Jovel Jr. is asking the community for help.
Luis suffered spinal cord and brain injuries two years ago when he ran into the street in front of his Clarksburg home and was struck by a speeding off-duty police officer. The family settled its lawsuit against Officer Jason R. Cokinos and the county for $400,000 the maximum damage award.
Montgomery County and its employees are limited in liability by the Local Government Tort Claims Act of 1987.
Lawyers took 30 percent of the settlement, the hospital took 10 percent and insurance took 15 percent, Luis Jovel Sr. said.
His son is now a quadriplegic and has permanent brain injury.
"He can move his hand, but he cannot hold anything," Jovel said. "He'll be in physical therapy all his life."
Young Luis is a freshman at Clarksburg High School, where he has a county-paid aide.
Jovel, his wife, Norma, and two of their older children care for Luis outside of school. He requires assistance for all personal care, turning, moving from wheelchair to bed or car and other everyday tasks.
"It's really hard, a difficult time for us," Jovel said. "What can we do? Go forward, not look back."
Luis is happy and working hard, Jovel said.
"Mentally he's fine," he said.
Doctors have told the Jovels that Luis needs far more therapy and assistance than they are able to provide to minimize the risk of infection and continue his ongoing rehabilitation.
He receives three hours of therapy each day at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injuries at Kennedy Krieger in Baltimore and puts in an additional three hours or more at home.
Jovel earns too much to qualify for state medical assistance. Insurance only pays for 20 therapy visits a year.
"He needs a lot of therapy every single day, that's how he'll be better," Jovel said.
To help the family with Luis' continued recovery-based therapies, a fundraising campaign has been established in his name with the Catastrophic Injury Program of National Transplant Assistance Fund.
NTAF is a nonprofit that has been assisting the transplant and spinal cord injury community for over 26 years. All contributions are administered by NTAF exclusively for uninsured medically related expenses.
The family will hold its first fundraiser Saturday, an Italian dinner with Latin dancing. The evening will include a silent auction and 50/50 raffle.
If you go
What: Italian dinner and Latin dance fundraiser for Luis Jovel Jr.
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: St. Martin's Catholic Church, 201 Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg
Tickets: $50 per person or $80 per family. Sponsorships: $500 to $2,500.
To purchase tickets, call Yolanda Caraballo at 301-404-9732 or Nieves Aguilar at 240-494-6294
Contributions are tax-deductible. This campaign is administered by the National Transplant Assistance Fund, a) nonprofit providing fundraising assistance to transplant and catastrophic injury patients.
-Contributions, with a note in the memo section of "In honor of Luis Jovel," may also be sent to:
NTAF Mid Atlantic Spinal Cord Injury Fund
NTAF, 150 N. Radnor Chester Road, Suite F-120, Radnor, Penn. 19087
-Or call 800-642-8399 or go to www.NTAFund.org and enter Jovel in the patient box on the homepage