Pasco County woman takes legal battle against sheriff's office to FL Senate

12 years ago deputy ran red light, hit her car
Posted at 6:55 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 18:55:03-05

A Pasco County family is now taking a legal battle against the sheriff's office all the way to the Florida Senate. 12-years ago, a Pasco County deputy sped past a red light with no sirens or lights and crashed. That impact sent Jennifer Wohlgemuth to the hospital with a traumatic brain injury.

12 years later, the painful memory fresh for mother Traci Wohlgemuth. Her daughter's car left a mangled, metal mess

"He said that she was still alive," she described coming face-to-face with a chaplain expecting to hear the worst only to find out her daughter was barely alive.

Evidence showing the deputy sped past a red light with no sirens.

"My life was just beginning, just starting," said Jennifer Wohlgemuth, "They completely stole my life."

Jennifer, about to head to college, suddenly found herself in brain surgery. She spent eight months in the hospital relearning to walk, talk and eat. The crash also stealing something else.

"Since my traumatic brain injury, I cannot cry," she said.

Plus, profound memory loss.

One of the ways Jennifer deals with her severe short term memory loss is writing. She's got about 7 years worth of memory journals in her home and she writes in them every single day by the hour.

In 2009, a judge awarded her family more than $8 million in damages. But, a Florida law puts a cap on how much a police department can pay up when sued. PCSO''s insurance paid $100,000. All of it going to legal bills. After mediation, the award dropped to $2 million. For the Wohlgemuth family to get the remaining money, the Florida legislature needs to pass a bill.

"It's been a nightmare," said Traci.

Since 2011, each bill has died in the senate. The family left empty-handed.

"Jennifer deserves an apology," she said, "She deserves justice."

They're not without hope this will be their year. Yesterday, her bill was approved in a senate committee. She's still the same happy woman. But the crash's effects are undeniable. She spends her days making jewelry and hoping this senate session, she'll get closure.



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