NewsLocal News


Denver man needs help after losing leg in crash with alleged distracted driver

Junior Diaz 2
Posted at 5:14 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 10:48:03-05

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the blink of an eye, Richard "Junior" Diaz's life changed when was injured in a car crash three weeks ago.

The 27-year-old was heading home from work with two of his relatives on Jan. 31 when a car crashed into them while they were traveling northbound on Monarch Boulevard in Castle Pines near Rock Canyon High School.

Diaz says he saw the other driver reach down for something, then the car swerved and t-boned his van, causing it to flip over. He was trapped inside the vehicle, and his two family members were severely injured.

"It was a really bad accident," said Diaz. "My legs got crushed at that time."

Diaz's left leg had to be amputated, and he suffered various other injuries. His family has remained by his side as he recovers at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood.

Flor Calderon, Diaz's mother, hopes her son's story will raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

"This rollover accident was horrifying. They almost took my son's life," she said. "It happened to somebody that's kind — my son has a big heart. It does hurt me that he lost his foot and his spirit, too, because, you know, he's always crying."

The family is now facing unexpected financial hardships. They've launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to help.

Diaz, who worked as a professional painter, says he now does not have a job and is facing a long road to recovery.

"I have a lot of bills to pay . I have to get all kinds of things for when I get sent home, like a wheelchair, a seat, shower seat, and all that. It's going to be difficult. My hospital bills are also going to be high," he said.

Diaz's mother says they also need to purchase a special van with wheelchair access.

"If anybody could, like, help us out with that, it'll help us a lot," Calderon said. "We're barely coping with this tragedy that happened to my son. And it's been hard. This shouldn't have happened to my son, you know. He was barely getting off at work, like normal people, trying to go home and that happened. And, you know, it does make me upset."

The family says this should serve as a wake-up call for just about every driver on the road.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), in 2021, nine in 10 drivers admitted to being distracted behind the wheel within the past week.

In 2020, more than 10,000 crashes involved distracted drivers. Nearly 1,500 crashes resulted in injuries, and 68 people were killed.

Diaz's recovery will be a long one. His family is hoping this story will stick with drivers as they get behind the wheel.

"What's helping me stay positive: my family, my support system, like as my friends, you know, they've been very supportive," he said. "The next part is getting my prosthetic leg, and just learning how to use it. I just want to be able to walk again. It's gonna be difficult, but it will take some time."

If you'd like to donate to help Diaz's recovery, click here.

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.