The city of Los Angeles has paid $7 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a volunteer for the Los Angeles Triathlon, who was left a paraplegic by an accident during the event in 2007, it was reported today.
Steve Albala, who was 60 at the time of the accident, was on his motorcycle helping to officiate the bicycle portion of the triathlon, when a traffic officer motioned for a vehicle to enter an intersection into the volunteer's path, causing the accident, Albala's attorney contended in the lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Albala was flung about 20 feet by the impact, said attorney Douglas Aberle. He suffered a vertebral fracture and was hospitalized for more than two years, having to undergo multiple surgeries, Aberle said, according to The Times.
Albala's wife, Sheri, told The Times that the aftermath of the accident was painful for her husband, who had always been active in the community, volunteering at the couple's Chatsworth synagogue and with an organization sending care packages to soldiers deployed in Iraq.
She recalled Albala's excitement over the opportunity to ride along the triathlon course from Venice to downtown Los Angeles without traffic, according to The Times.
A police report at the time concluded that Albala had been speeding and was responsible for the accident, Aberle told The Times.
"We're both relieved. It's one more chapter we can close and move on to the next chapter," Sheri Albala told The Times in a reference to the $7 million settlement. She said she and her husband are slowly building the foundations of a new life, ordering a customized wheelchair and a van that can accommodate his needs.