The family of a woman who was buried alive in her car after it was hit by a truck have been awarded $80 million in damages.
Laura Miera, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, had just dropped off her 14-year-old daughter at school and was waiting at a traffic light when a truck hit her car, rolled it over, then poured its load of sand over it, trapping the mum inside.
Teachers and students on their way to the school tried to dig out the 48-year-old woman by hand. One school counsellor tried to comfort Miera as the car filled with sand.
Jacob Vigil, the attorney who has represented Miera's family in their 10-year legal fight, said: "It was devastating The school counsellor was holding her hand, praying while the sand just rose above her head, and the counsellor just kept saying 'Squeeze my hand if you can hear me.' She squeezed for a while until she died."
According to the lawsuit, the truck involved in the crash in 2002 had an expired registration, three brakes out of adjustment and a driver with two criminal charges before he was hired by the truck company.
Mr Vigil said Laura's family hoped that their case will lead to tougher regulations and real consequences for trucking companies that are cited or fined for unsafe operations.
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