Family of ‘Affluenza’ Teen’s Victim Break Their Silence
For the first time since the 2013 incident, the family of the teen paralyzed in a widely covered drunk-driving accident have spoken out.
18-year-old Sergio Molina was left paralyzed, only able to communicate with blinks and in need of round-the-clock care, after the drunk-driving incident caused by “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch that killed four others. Molina had been riding in the back of the pickup truck Couch was driving while intoxicated.
The accident and subsequent trial gained national attention when Couch’s attorneys claimed that the well-to-do teen suffered from “affluenza,” a supposed mental condition where wealthy young people are left without understanding of the consequences of their actions due to their privileged upbringing. The unorthodox strategy worked, as Couch was sentenced to just 10 years probation, instead of 20 years behind bars recommended by the prosecution.
Couch jumped back into the media spotlight in December after he fled the U.S. for Mexico when footage of him drinking at a party, thus violating the terms of his probation, came to light. Couch is now back in the U.S., and his case has been transferred from the juvenile to adult court system, lengthening his sentence to 2024.
Following the most recent hearing in the case, Molina’s brother, Alex Lemus, spoke to the media with his disabled sibling by his side.
“What you see here today, this is my brother. Take a look,” said Lemus. “Y’all ain’t even gone to my house yet. You haven’t been to my house to see … every day what we have to do with my brother in order for him to stay stable like this. Alive. Breathing.”
Following the accident, Molina’s family, who are uninsured, desperately needed money to keep the young man in the hospital, where treating severe head injuries is crucial in the first few months. Molina’s mother, Maria Lemus, even begged the Couch family for money. Their pleas were ignored and Molina had to be taken out of the hospital. The family was eventually awarded $2.3 million in a legal settlement, but it came too late to extend Molina’s hospital care.
Now, Molina can communicate only through a series a blinks; one blink for yes; two blinks for no.
Molina and Lemus are not the only ones who feel Couch’s weak sentencing has been an injustice.
Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter outside his home when Couch’s pickup careened off the side of the road in 2013, was stunned by the court’s ruling, especially that Couch seemed to never show any signs of remorse, according to The Washington Post.
“We had 180 years of life taken…,” Boyles told CBS as he wept outside the courtroom in 2013. “Money always seems to keep Ethan out of trouble. This was one time I did ask the court for justice, for money not to prevail. And ultimately today I felt like money did prevail.”
This time, the hope is that money will not prevail and a stronger sentence is passed down.
“My brother is doing more than probation,” said Alex Lemus.