What are commonly referred to as silly teenage pranks can sometimes have serious consequences. Iowa resident Randy Severson experienced that first-hand.
Severson was severely injured five years ago when he accidentally drove his pickup truck into a ditch being dug by the county highway department. County workers had put up barricades to warn motorists, but three teenagers removed them just for fun.
Well, this week a jury awarded him $12.8 million in damages according to a news article in The Globe Gazette. The two miscreants were found guilty of causing the auto accident and sent to prison for five years on a felony conviction. By all accounts, Severson had the most horrific experience of his life.
His truck was wedged in a pile of dirt and suspended 10 feet above the bottom of the ditch, the article states. Severson suffered a spinal fracture at the base of his skull, a broken hip and developed pneumonia. He had to spend 100 days in the intensive care unit and had to undergo four major surgeries to fix his injuries.
Severson who was quoted in the news article told reporters that he believed God spared his life so he could bring awareness on the issue of how pranks affect people. The father of four teenagers himself, Severson said his goal in filing the lawsuit was to create that awareness, which he hopes would save lives. Severson is still awaiting a hip replacement surgery.
Jurors reportedly deliberated for a little over two hours before coming up with the $12.8 million award. Severson did not ask for specified damages in his lawsuit. According to the article, jurors awarded the high amount taking into consideration Severson’s injuries and the nature of the cruel prank. The teens apparently testified that they did not intend to cause Severson any harm, but the jury clearly didn’t buy it.
This was clearly an immature, irrational and cruel act and calling it a prank sometimes understates the seriousness of such an act, which is clearly criminal. Our hearts go out to Severson and his family. He obviously has not been able to work and provide for his family over the last five years. His four children must have missed their father as he tried to recover from all of his surgeries and not to mention the nightmare his wife must be going through.
Young people must think about the consequences of their actions. If they are minors, then their parents could be held liable for not supervising their children properly. Hopefully this jury award will stand as an example to show young people what a thoughtless, insensitive act perceived by them as a funny practical joke, can do in real life to real people.