"I'm not really sure how much more pain there’s going to be, but I'm alive. That's the serious blessing here," Ricky Melendez said.
Melendez was hit by four teens driving a stolen car that was going more than 100 mph. He was hit at 4:30 a.m. Sunday on his way to work in Palm Harbor and says he was driving through a green light when he was hit out of nowhere.
"My entire front part of my car was crushed," Melendez said.
The impact of the crash broke his collar bone, injured his wrist and more.
"More than likely I'm going to get surgery on my ankle and that's a little scary. The hematoma in my hip is doing better. That's the thing I was most worried about," Melendez said.
It wasn’t until later he learned who hit him.
"It was frustrating. Teenagers doing wrong things. Regardless of what they were doing, it's sad that obviously no one cared for them to know where they were at 4 am. And it's sad. No one deserves to die, no matter what they're doing especially at that age," Melendez said.
Only one teen survived the crash, Keondrae Brown, 14, who showed up before a judge on Tuesday. He faces one charge of grand theft auto.
Some people claim the teens didn’t cause the crash, instead blaming police. But Melendez says it’s time for accountability.
"It's easy for people to blame others, they need to look in the mirror and realize whose fault it really was. It was the teens’ fault, they were doing something they shouldn’t have been doing and they paid the ultimate price. And that's not something that I'm happy that happened," Melendez said.
Melendez hopes Keondrae and others learn from this terrible crash and that it makes them think twice before committing a crime. And to think about consequences that affect others’ lives and not just their own.
Melendez spends his days sitting in a recliner and that’s where he also sleeps. He’ll be out of work for at least one month.
"The road to recovery, I'm hoping, is sooner than later. I have all these bills that need to be paid. I just hope it’s sooner than later because I need to get back to work,” Melendez said.
As for the strangers who are making his recovery a little easier by donating to his GoFundMe page, he says, “Thank you, it means so much, it really does. Words don’t describe how much it means. Thank you, I appreciate it.”
More than $9,000 has been raised so far, with a goal of $25,000 to help cover Melendez’s medical bills.
There were two other teens in another stolen car that police say were racing the car that crashed.
Deyon Kaigler, 16, and Kamal Campbell, 18, were in that car and face charges of grand theft auto and resisting an officer.
investigators are also considering felony murder charges against the three surviving teens.
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