AUBURN — A former Bates College student who was run over by a delivery truck on campus last year is suing the truck’s company and driver for the serious injuries she sustained.
Xiomara Alarcon of Los Angeles was 21 years old and a junior at the college on Sept. 8, 2022.
She was on a pedestrian walkway called Alumni Walk when a truck delivering office supplies approached her from behind and struck her, according to an amended civil complaint filed recently in Androscoggin County Superior Court.
The original complaint also named Bates College as a defendant, but the plaintiff later filed an amended complaint naming only the truck driver and the trucking company and filed a motion to dismiss all claims against the college.
Alarcon had been holding a cell phone and had an ear bud in at least one ear, according to the complaint.
She was wearing blue jeans, a dark-colored sweater, a black T-shirt, and white sneakers, the complaint said.
Alarcon had been composing a text message to friends when the Freightliner truck, driven by W.B. Mason Co. Inc. employee Ryan Mellor of Bath, struck her from behind.
The truck had been backing along the walkway onto the campus so he could park close to the buildings in which he was going to make his delivery, the complaint said.
In order to accomplish the task, he hadn’t needed to back the truck onto the campus, according to the complaint.
“In fact, W.B. Mason drivers had delivered to these same buildings in the past without backing their trucks onto campus,” the complaint said.
The truck was equipped with a backup camera and side mirrors, the complaint said.
“Had Mellor gotten out of the truck to look behind it before backing the truck onto Alumni Walk or looked carefully in the backup camera or driver’s-side mirror as he backed along Alumni Walk, he would have seen Xiomara,” the complaint said.
As the truck backed up, it knocked her to the ground then dragged her about 18 feet across the hard surface of the walkway, ripping away her pants and underwear and tearing the flesh of her lower pelvic area, according to the complaint.
“Eyewitnesses described seeing the W.B. Mason truck come to a stop and then pull forward, running over Xiomara a second time,” the complaint said.
Alarcon “was screaming in pain (her screams were audible on body cam video taken by the police when they arrived on scene). She was unable to move her legs,” according to the complaint.
Bystanders helped to move her onto her back and cover her below the waist as she bled from her abdomen, according to the complaint.
Emergency medical services workers at Bates College documented that Alarcon reported having been hit from behind, knocked to the ground and striking her head. Her right leg was disfigured and bent inwards, the complaint said.
Her left pupil was fully dilated and unresponsive to light; her right eye was dilated, the complaint said.
Ambulance workers documented reports of pain in Alarcon’s head and pelvis, as well as an abrasion on her right cheek. They placed her on a stretcher and took her to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where she was hospitalized for more than a month, according to the complaint.
A LONG RECOVERY
Initially, she required emergency surgery for her extensive injuries, including prolonged resuscitation in and out of the trauma bay, the complaint said.
Alarcon sustained multiple pelvic fractures, a left femur fracture, both ankles broken, shock due to trauma, a possible right knee ligament injury, and acute blood loss with anemia, the complaint said.
She also experienced respiratory failure due to an insufficient amount of oxygen in her bodily tissues, according to the complaint.
The hospital reported that she was experiencing blurry vision, dizziness, shortness of breath, flashbacks of the incident, headaches, difficulty with memory, stress, anxiety and severe pain, the complaint said.
Alarcon underwent numerous medical imaging scans and surgical procedures, the complaint said.
After spending 36 days in the Lewiston hospital, Alarcon was medically air-flighted to California and was treated for 37 days at a hospital there, the complaint said.
The numerous pain medications caused her to feel dizzy and nauseous, and she underwent daily wound care and dressing changes, which required frequent turning, causing insomnia, the complaint said.
Alarcon need to undergo numerous procedures and surgeries, including complex tissue arrangements and multiple skin grafts, the complaint said.
In November, she was discharged from that hospital and admitted to a rehabilitation facility, where she stayed through the first week of December.
She was trained in how to manage a colostomy bag and required physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, counseling, numerous imaging scans, and other treatments, according to the complaint.
Simple things, like using the bathroom, were difficult due to braces on both legs and wound dressings, the complaint said.
Alarcon has continued to get orthopedic and wound care stemming from the incident, as well as surgery to remove a device from her abdomen aimed at preventing blood clots, the complaint said.
She continues to experience pain related to her many injuries and surgeries, the complaint said.
Alarcon also has suffered headaches and changes in her cognitive function due to her head injury, including memory impairment, poor concentration and slow thought processes, according to the complaint.
And she has experienced severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress and has changed from being an outgoing, ambitious and positive person with many close friends and relationships, to living with severe anxiety and self-doubt and has largely withdrawn from the outside world, the complaint said.
While she’s hoping to improve to the point where she can resume her former life, return to college and finish getting her degree, she doesn’t feel that’s possible currently, the complaint said.
Through her local attorney, Benjamin Gideon, Alarcon alleges negligence on the part of the trucking company and its driver and said the company was negligent in hiring, training and supervising the driver.
She is seeking a judgment against the company and driver, including compensatory damages, punitive damages, past and future medical expenses, emotional distress, lost earnings and earning capacity, lost enjoyment of life, together with attorney fees and costs.
Alarcon came to the United States at age 13 as an unaccompanied minor, seeking asylum from the gang violence that plagued her at home in El Salvador.
She was granted asylum last year and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Alarcon spoke little English when she immigrated, but her grasp of the language improved in middle school.
She attended a highly competitive high school and graduated valedictorian of her high school class.
Alarcon said she chose Bates College because she wanted to attend a small liberal arts school and was excited to experience life in the northeastern United States, an area she had never visited, according to the complaint.
She was the first member of her family to go to college.
Alarcon received a full academic scholarship for her first two years at Bates and planned to major in sociology with a minor in educational studies, the complaint said.
She said her goal was to become a teacher, earn a master’s degree and, ultimately, become a social worker. While a student at Bates, Alarcon spent time teaching fifth and sixth grades at a school in Lewiston as part of her education curriculum, the complaint said.
Mary Pols, a spokeswoman for Bates College, issued a statement Tuesday about the lawsuit.
“Bates is aware of the complaint filed on behalf of Xiomara Alarcon, who was a third-year student at Bates College when she was struck by a delivery truck on the college’s campus on Sept. 8, 2022. Bates has worked closely with Xiomara to coordinate her care and insurance, and to support her in her recovery. Bates and Xiomara share a hope that she will return to campus to complete her studies. We have resolved the matter without litigation.”
A lawyer for W.B. Mason and Mellor did not respond to requests for comment.