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N.M. EMT Files Lawsuit in Wrong-Way Crash

SANTA FE, N.M. -- A 19-year-old woman who was severely injured when a wrong-way drunken driver slammed into the ambulance she was driving on Interstate 25 near Santa Fe last December has filed a lawsuit in state district court.

Vanessa Carrillo's lawsuit names the ambulance company she used to work for, Rocky Mountain EMS, and the two women who were in the car that crashed into her as she was returning to her station.

Among Carrillo's injuries were numerous broken bones in both legs, more than a dozen fractures in her facial bones and a torn tendon in her arm. She used a wheelchair for months after the accident.

The lawsuit contends the two women — driver Kylene Holmes and passenger Jennifer Belvin — had consumed copious amounts of alcohol and marijuana on numerous occasions and in various locations the night of the crash.

Holmes was killed in the crash, and Belvin was injured.

The lawsuit also claims the ambulance company was negligent in its upkeep of airbags in the vehicle Carrillo was driving that night. Airbags did not deploy in the head-on collision.

The lawsuit filed by Carrillo's attorney, Jeffrey Trespel of Albuquerque, also questions whether Rocky Mountain's medical insurance was sufficient and whether the company's management of the coverage is causing his client to be shortchanged.

Trespel told The New Mexican that Carrillo is recovering and that she has the heart of a lion.

"But this is an uphill battle for her and she has a long way to go," he said. "There is no reason she should be worrying about paying any of her medical expenses as none of this was this girl's fault."

Attorneys for the defendants have yet to file responses to the lawsuit. However, the ambulance company dismissed suggestions following the crash that there wasn't proper insurance or that the ambulance was unsafe.

The lawsuit seeks payment for all medical expenses, all legal fees and unspecified punitive damages for Carrillo's injures and complications that are expected to continue in the future. The lawsuit describes Carrillo's injuries as both physical and psychological.

At the time of the crash, Carrillo was working as a licensed EMT as part of her effort to get into medical school at the University of New Mexico. She also was a ballerina, but her injuries may prevent her from dancing again.

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