Tree Paralyzes Teen; Family To Sue City

15-Year-Old Paralyzed From Waist Down When Limb Fell On Him

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Aubrey Stewart had dreams of playing football, but his life changed forever when a rotten tree limb fell on him, paralyzing the 15-year-old from the waist down.

"When I'm seeing children getting ready for school, my son is getting ready to go back to surgery," Aubrey's father said.

Now, the Jacksonville teen's family is planning to sue the city, saying it's to blame. Family attorney Steve Pajcic said the accident happened June 27 across from Aubrey's Eastside home after repeated complaints to the city to have the tree removed.

"He went out to the car, was standing next to the car, and the tree limb fell from across the street onto him and onto the car," Pajcic said. "It made such a commotion that all the neighbors from all around and even at the park came to it, and Aubrey was pinned."

Aubrey is still at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center awaiting more surgery.

"He asked the question, 'Why does it happen to me, mama? Why does this have to happen?'" Aubrey's mother said. "I don't know why it happened. I told him, 'I don't know why it happened.'"

Pajcic said neighbors asked the city to remove the trees several times, after one fell on a car and another fell in the middle of the road, blocking traffic.

"This kind of danger to the public is the first priority of local government, is to protect the lives and the safety of our public, which has not been done here," Pajcic said.

He said the city marked the trees for removal, but it took a month after Aubrey's injury for the trees to be cleared.

"I felt let down by the city. I really did," Aubrey's father said. "Nothing was done, and it's just sad."

Aubrey has lost sensation from the waist down.

"He got to prepare himself for other things now. It's going to be a long road," Aubrey's father said.

The city would not comment on pending litigation.

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