Torrington Woman Run Over By SUV Says Driver’s Life Shouldn’t Be Ruined

Although still suffering from injuries sustained when an SUV ran over her more than a year ago, a Torrington woman says she’s OK with the driver receiving a lesser sentence, adding, “I don’t want to ruin his life.”

CM
Clair McFarland

December 01, 20237 min read

Torrington police

It’s been 13 months and she still can’t feel the left side of her face, but Andrea Griffin is ready to move on from the criminal case of the man who ran her over in Torrington, then fled.   

“I’m just really happy this is over,” said Griffin four days after Juan Gomez Gallardo, 69, reported to the Goshen County Detention Center to serve 48 days in jail.   

After that he’ll have two years probation, she said, and he’ll pay $16,000 in restitution. Slowly.   

The restitution represents what she’s lost so far in lost wages and out-of-pocket medical costs. It doesn’t cover other little incidentals that have cropped up due to her injuries, she said, adding that that’s OK.   

It’ll take a long time for Gomez Gallardo to pay the money, she said. He’s a seasonal worker and during the months when he’s not working, his Social Security allows him to pay out $150 a month.   

“That doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but for that man that’s a lot of money,” she said. “I don’t want to ruin his life. That was never my intention.”   

Also in the interest of not ruining Gomez Gallardo’s life, Griffin agreed to a generous plea agreement to drop an aggravated assault charge from his charges.

‘I Did Not Want To Go To Trial’

The Goshen County Attorney’s Office charged Gomez Gallardo last November with the aggravated assault felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines, and with other misdemeanors.   

Griffin was confident Gomez Gallardo would go to trial and would be convicted. She didn’t want to endure either event.   

“I did not want to go to trial. Every time I was in court I was in tears. Watching the video from the school bus – though it doesn’t show the imipact – it was devastating to watch,” she said. “We all decided together not to go to trial.”   

Another grace contemplated in the plea agreement is keeping Gomez Gallardo in the United States.   

Griffin said he’s not a citizen, but has lived in the Torrington community near other family members for 30 years. His son is a Torrington police officer.   

Filed July 27, the plea agreement says dropping the aggravated assault charge was “negotiated due to Defendant’s immigration status.”   

Gomez Gallardo pleaded guilty last month to four misdemeanors: reckless driving, failing to stop for an accident where the victim was injured, failing to render aid, and failure to maintain liability coverage.  

If he fails the terms of his probation, Gomez Gallardo may go to jail for several months. But if he succeeds at probation, the prosecutor will drop the aggravated assault charge “with prejudice,” meaning, with a finality preventing him from charging it again.   

Don’t Move  

The hit-and-run happened about 7 a.m. Oct. 26, 2022, according to the evidentiary affidavit filed in the case.   

Griffin was walking through a crosswalk between two intersecting highways in her red coat on her way to her secretarial job, a habit for her.   

She remembered looking up at the crosswalk light. She still had about 14 seconds to clear the intersection, she told Cowboy State Daily.   

Little did she know, the signal light perpendicular to her had a flashing yellow arrow for people turning left, rather than a red arrow commanding them to stop.   

A slice of time fell away.   

She woke to someone holding her down, commanding her not to move because she might have spinal injuries.   

Griffin soon learned she was cradled on the legs of a bus driver who had witnessed the accident and leapt to her aid.  

“He told me when he got to me, he just knew he’d find a body and not a living person,” said Griffin.    

Griffin spent three weeks in the hospital.

She had skull fractures, cheek and facial fractures, Griffin said, adding that her left arm was fractured to the point of requiring three plates and numerous screws. Her left hip was totally replaced. Her right wrist was broken.   

A Flight  

She learned later her head dented Gomez Gallardo’s SUV, and she launched entirely over the vehicle and landed behind it.   

Gomez Gallardo drove away, but later called his son to say he believed he may have hit someone earlier that day, the affidavit says.   

Because the son is a Torrington police officer, the department turned the case over to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.   

‘Something Didn’t Feel Right’   

A Wyoming Highway Patrol agent met with Gomez Gallardo in an interview room at the police station with a Spanish-speaking interpreter present.    

Gomez Gallardo said he was on his way to work when he made a left turn onto the highway. He heard an impact but didn’t see anything, adding that he said he stopped to look behind but did not get out of his vehicle, says the affidavit.   

When he arrived at work, Gomez Gallardo reportedly said that “something didn’t feel right,” and when he checked his car, he saw a broken driver’s side headlight, the affidavit reads. That was when he called his son.    

Gomez Gallardo said he couldn’t afford insurance, the document notes.    

Race Across The Railroad Tracks  

Griffin has heard from at least two community members that the light at the intersection has been changed so that a red signal shows when a pedestrian still has time to cross.   

“People race across those railroad tracks and try to make that light,” she said. “I believe if it had been a red arrow not an orange flashing light, he wouldn’t have been in court, and neither would I.”   

Another change Griffin would like to see is jail time for people charged with failing to have liability insurance.   

Gomez Gallardo obtained insurance after the incident, but the company wouldn’t talk to Griffin, she said.   

“Because this guy had no insurance it’s been like fighting the devil trying to get help,” she said. “If they have the $500 for the fine they (should) have insurance.”   

Torrington Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lee sentenced Gomez Gallardo on Nov. 17, and ordered him to report to the jail Monday.   

 

Moving On 

Now everyone is moving on, Griffin said.  

“I’m still in pain every day. I probably always will be,” she said, adding that the left side of her face is numb, her left arm and hand don’t function well; her left hip hurts, and she’s numb from her left knee down. 

The community has been “fabulous” in supporting Griffin and her family, she said.  

“I hope that people have learned from this particular incident. My life is changed forever. And those people who love me, their lives have changed forever,” she said. “But we’re still up and we’re still going.” 

Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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CM

Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter