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Colorado man saved from flood faces backlash for suing rescuers

“Of course he was thankful because those divers did have a major role to play in saving his life that day,” lawyer says. "That doesn't negate the fact that a mistake may have been made."
By Evan Bleier Follow @itishowitis Contact the Author   |   March 11, 2014 at 12:03 PM
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A Colorado man who was rescued after he hit a washed out road and ended up stuck in a creek during a Broomfield County flood last year may be suing the people who rescued him and the county for up to $500,000.

Roy Ortiz is filing the lawsuit because he claims the rescuers from North Metro Fire Rescue should have gotten to him faster and were negligent because they didn’t realize he was trapped in his upside-down car. Ortiz was stuck in the cold water of the creek for about two hours.

“Of course he was thankful because those divers did have a major role to play in saving his life that day,” Ortiz’s attorney, Ed Ferszt, told 7 News Denver. “That doesn't negate the fact that a mistake may have been made. I can understand why there's a lot of furor over people thinking that he's biting the hand that feeds. Does that mean that officers of North Metro Fire are above reproach?”

He added:

“Well, well let's talk for a second about the divers. If divers went into the water in an attempt to locate Roy and they didn't see him there, as dangerous a job that it is -- and we are thankful for first responders, that was a mistake. And the legal term for that mistake is negligence.”

Ortiz is still bothered by a shoulder injury he suffered during the incident and has already amassed about $40,000 in medical bills.

“Well, I'm happy. I'm really happy to be alive," Ortiz said. “But I'm looking for some help with my bills. I don't have the money to pay.”

He admits that he’s certainly heard some criticism about the suit.

“People react like I am a bad man for filing this,” Ortiz said. “It's not like that. I just tried to defend my rights. My name is being defamed; I've been working for the same company for 17 years, I'm co-pastor of a church in Aurora. People know me. I’ve never caused trouble…My situation was taken out of context.”

"I'm sure it was a traumatic experience for (Ortiz)," said a spokesperson for the North Metro Fire Department. "Ultimately, we were just very grateful we were able to save his life that day."


[7 News Denver]
[CBS]

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