"It was weird and scary, and everything was blurry," he said. "The first thing that came to mind was that I was afraid I killed somebody."
The wreck happened on
Mintz, 28, said he is relieved no one else was injured -- or worse -- in the crash. He said when he came out of his coma, his first thought upon hearing what had happened was that he might have hurt someone. Mintz's fiancé,
"If anybody else had gotten injured, I think that would have killed him," she said.
Foster said that the two weeks Mintz was in the coma were nearly unbearable, and even early on after he came to, things were difficult, especially when he came down with pneumonia.
"I wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping," Foster said.
But now Mintz is on the road to recovery, however long that road may be. Along with two or three more surgeries, he has about five more weeks of exercises that aim to simply increase his range of motion before he'll move onto light load-bearing exercises. Unlike many who are unable to use their legs after an accident, Mintz feels just about every bit of the pain.
"I keep telling people I'm never going to complain about a little pain ever again," he said wryly.
Mintz's toxicology results aren't in, meaning
Despite the fact that Medicaid has covered medical expenses and family has been able to help Mintz and Foster with bills, there have still been other hardships. Perhaps the toughest challenge has been transportation. The truck Mintz drove into
Although Haywood County Public Transit vehicles are handicap accessible, it is considered a safety hazard for a rider to sit with outstretched legs, which is the only way Mintz can currently sit. Because of this, they haven't been able to get anywhere and have had to cancel multiple local doctors' appointments. Only for major appointments at
In addition, Foster has had to quit work to take care of her husband. Because Mintz needs someone around him 24/7, anytime Foster leaves the home, someone else must be there. Foster said family support has been crucial. While her sister, a CNA, helps when needed, Foster said she has also been really proud of how her kids have helped out.
"They've come to love him like a dad," she said.
But another challenge is looming. Mintz is facing a lawsuit filed by
"As a proximate result of the accident which is the subject of this lawsuit, the Plaintiff suffered property damage to his vehicle (a 2000
The suit outlines how Benge believes Mintz was at fault for the accident, alleging that he "Failed to keep a proper lookout; failed to keep his vehicle under proper control; failed to reduce speed to avoid a collision; made an unsafe movement or otherwise failed to avoid the accident which is the subject matter of this lawsuit; other ways to be proven at trial or through discover that are negligent and possibly grossly negligent."
Although Mintz wouldn't comment on the suit specifically, he said he felt bad for any hardship suffered by Benge and his family.
"I just want to apologize to them for them not being able to get their vehicle ... if I could change it I would," he said.
"They don't have any hard feelings towards him and they appreciate the apology he gave," Ferguson said. "However, I spoke with his insurance company on more than one occasion and gave them the opportunity to take care of damage to my clients vehicle and they refused to do so, so I had no choice."
Ferguson said the suit specifies Benge is asking for less than
"We're not talking about a huge sum of money here," he said.
But for Mintz and Foster, all the hurdles still to come are not yet a priority. In fact, Foster is most looking forward to the day she can marry the man she loves.
"I figure we'll get married whenever we can have our first dance," she said.
"For now, I'm happy he's alive," she added. "That's what I care about. Everything else is just background noise."
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