“Affluenza Teen” Ethan Couch, and his mother Tonya, have both been the subject of intense media scrutiny for the past couple of months, as the family’s legal case has worked its way through Mexican and Texas courts. But seemingly lost in the narrative are the stories of his victims, some of whose families feel they may never get any rel justice.
As The Dallas Morning News reports, Maria Lemus spends her days caring for her 18-year-old son, Sergio Molina. The once-vibrant teen, who used to love soccer and had plenty of friends, now spends 24 hours per day confined to a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. He can only communicate through blinking.
On June 15, 2013, Molina was a passenger in a truck being driven by then-16-year-old Ethan Couch. Couch was drunk, driving on a restricted license, and speeding, according to The Cleburne Times. Couch lost control of his vehicle and struck a group of people who were stopped on the side of the road, helping a disabled vehicle.
Four people attending to the disabled vehicle were killed in the crash; a total of nine others were injured.
One of those injured was Sergio Molina, a passenger in Couch’s truck. Molina, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle.
At his trial, Couch earned the nickname “Affluenza Teen” after Judge Jean Hudson Boyd agreed with Couch’s defense attorneys, who argued that the wealthy teen was so coddled by his parents, who went to great lengths to shield him from the consequences of his actions, that he could not distinguish right from wrong – a condition colloquially termed “affluenza.”
Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya, once again became the subject of intense media coverage in December 2015, after the pair skipped the country and took refuge in Mexico, following allegations that Ethan has violated his parole.
The case, and all of its legal maneuverings by the Couch’s, continue to this day. Just last week, Ethan’s case was transferred to an adult court; it had been in juvenile court, since Ethan was 16 at the time of his original crime.
Sergio Molina’s mother, Maria Lemus, says her son’s plight has been lost in the narrative of Ethan Couch’s crimes.
“People say we have to die to go to hell. To me, I’ve already been there.”
After the accident that nearly killed him, Sergio spent two months in the hospital – until he was kicked out for not having insurance. Lemus believes that her son may have had a better recovery had he been allowed to stay longer in the hospital. Meanwhile, the Couch family has been no help.
“We called Ethan Couch’s family, begging for help. They refused. They say, ‘There’s nothing we can do. Go ahead and call a lawyer.’ I said, ‘But we need the help now.'”
Molina’s family was able to get $2 million from Couch’s family – after they sued.
Meanwhile, Sergio’s brother, Alex Lemus, held a press conference of sorts on Saturday, trying to convince the media to pay attention to Sergio’s plight instead of Ethan’s.
“What you see here today, this is my brother. Take a look. 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.”
Ethan Couch faces a maximum of 180 days in jail if found guilty of violating his probation by fleeing to Mexico.
[AP Photo/LM Otero]