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Plea deal gives relief to man who lost leg to drunk driver

In a court hearing Tuesday, Joshua West accepted a plea agreement in the car crash that cost Andrew Hall his left leg.

Courtesy of Bay News 9

In a court hearing Tuesday, Joshua West accepted a plea agreement in the car crash that cost Andrew Hall his left leg.

LARGO — After the split second their lives intersected in a horrific car crash 10 months ago, Andrew Hall and Joshua West were forever changed.

Hall lost his ability to walk, something cerebral palsy had tried to rob him of since his childhood.

West, who was driving drunk when he hit Hall in April, lost his freedom.

On Tuesday, West accepted a plea agreement that will send him to prison for eight years. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury.

"This stops here. I'm done with Joshua West after today," said Hall, who is now 20. "It's a huge relief.

West, now 25, had been drinking at a Clearwater Beach bar before the 1 a.m. April 20 accident, police said. He was going about 90 mph when he veered up onto the sidewalk and slammed into Hall, who was waiting for a ride.

Hall sustained multiple injuries, including a severed left leg and shattered pelvis. The story of his rescue was featured in the St. Petersburg Times in August.

Three hours after the crash, West's blood alcohol level was measured at 0.188 percent, more than twice the limit at which a person is presumed impaired in Florida.

West apologized to Hall during the hearing.

Hall said he forgives West but found the apology insincere.

"Looking into his eyes, he's a really lost young man," Hall said.

Hall, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler, worked for years to strengthen his legs enough to walk unassisted. He said Tuesday that he is focusing on his rehabilitation, with the hopes that he'll be fitted with a prosthetic leg and walk again someday.

Hall now lives in Clearwater with Hanyn Arana, who has been like a father to him. On Monday, Hall spent time with talk show host Montel Williams at Clearwater Marine Aquarium to tape a segment for a syndicated medical talk show, The Doctors. Today, he will fly to California for a taping of the show, which is scheduled to air in early March.

Hall, whose story of survival has inspired many across the Tampa Bay area and beyond, said Tuesday that he hopes it also serves as a warning.

"Think about every decision you make. Every decision has consequences," Hall said. "I've suffered because of his stupid decision."

Hall said he hopes to become an advocate for tougher drunken driving penalties.

"Drinking and driving is an epidemic. It's spreading like cancer," he said. "So if this will promote change, all across America, I'm on the wagon for it."

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

FAST FACTS

How to help

A fund has been set up to help Hall purchase a prosthetic leg and offset his medical bills:

To donate, make a deposit at any SunTrust Bank or mail a check with a note saying it is for the Andrew S. Hall Charitable Fund to SunTrust Bank, Mail Teller, P.O. Box 27572, Richmond, VA 23261-7572.

Plea deal gives relief to man who lost leg to drunk driver 02/16/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 1:31am]
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