The Impact of the Damage Caused to a Good Man by the Multiple Negligences of a Repeat Offender

Let me start my telling you about who our wonderful son Garrett Norman is. Not only is he our son and a loving brother, he is a fine young, intelligent, athletic man of character, work ethic, charity and generosity, who has not a shred of hate, evil, or racism in his system. He has seen hate, evil, and racism from a young age and has experienced it personally as he has been with minority friends when subjected to it. He is and has been a friend to anyone and he is blind to color and ethnicity. He is the finest of human beings. He is a charitable soul and as a demonstration of both his charity and color-blindness, he has shared his house for nearly a year with a couple of mixed race whose apartment home had burned down. He is a good neighbor, his neighbors love him as they know that he would do most anything to lend a helping hand.
His work ethic has been beyond comparison; he was awarded a scholarship from Westfield High School for “The Most Improved Student” and he has been either in higher learning education and/or employed or working ever since Graduating High School. He is a highly-contributing member of society, he now runs his own business in Broad Ripple, and he is an employer of others. He is well known among Real Estate agents in and around Indianapolis for the work that he does and he comes highly recommended. Garrett worked for years as an ROV operator on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and he gave up a fine career on an oil platform to take the risk of starting his own business here in Indy where he has been living and working for several years.
July 23, 2019, I received a call from Garrett’s mother. Through shaky voice she told me of Garrett’s motorcycle “accident” and where he was now. He had been in a collision, and then not just dragged from behind, but dragged beneath THE WEIGHT of a car, which was compressing him to the pavement, for almost exactly 75 yards, leaving a trail of blood and flesh on 60th Street.
There is nothing that prepares you for seeing your child wrapped up in thick layers of gauze and bundled up with a neck brace while his blood is oozing out of the bandages, there is dried blood all over him, and there is fresh blood pouring out of his hands and dripping from his body all around him, and while he is pleading to you for water.
“Dad! Please! Just a little! I’m so thirsty! Please!”
All I could think to myself is “Please God – No! You can’t take him! He doesn’t deserve this!” and try to hold myself together in a steady enough voice to just say “hang in there, you’ll be fine and we will get you all the water you want after they run the tests”.
It tears a father apart from inside. There is no feeling that I can equate this to. I would ache for ANYONE in this condition, but this was MY SON for whom I have dreams of the future. My bloodline and lineage, my best bud, my prince of the family.
He just kept repeating “I just need some water, please Dad, just a little, I’m so thirsty!”.
You have seen the movies- people begging for water as they are dying, so you think the worst. I wanted so much just to give him his drink of water but we were ordered not to as he was going in for testing and there was concern for vomiting anything consumed. So I am not permitted to even honor what might be his last request. The mental anguish this puts a parent through is heart-wrenching, to see your child laying there, possibly dying, maybe bleeding out internally with a crushed liver, or a pierced organ from a broken rib, covered in road burns, having lost so much flesh from his torso and hands that his ligaments were shredded, his nipples were gone, his left hand gouged out at the thumb, his right thigh gouged out so deep that my fist could fit within the cavity.
Garrett had surgery the next day to further remove parts of his flesh that were burned, and to clean out the gravel and asphalt. He received cadaver skin and woke up in excruciating pain, pain that was a “10” when he woke up, and worse on following days as they later pulled off the cadaver skin and cut the skin from his legs and applied that in “grafts”. There are not enough pain killers for this sort of pain without causing other damage to the brain or resulting in addictive tendencies (so we were told) so he is subjected to continuous pain at levels that keep him from sleeping for days.
Being with your child for weeks while he is in constant pain leaves a parent in a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. What if he gets an infection and dies? What if he has a seizure from the pain or brain death from a clot? There are so many bad outcomes that can still follow. The mental anguish, from worry and stress of what has happened and what could still happen, for his family was well beyond what most people consider when they hear that someone has been “in an accident”, a phrase which has no real depth of the magnitude or consequences of what has really happened and what has yet to happen. Skin grafts that hurt worse than the being dragged under a car, infections, more surgeries; multiple days of pain from a steel pin being inserted through the top of his thumb down into his hand, the attempt to cut up his hand just to repair his thumb so that he can use his right hand again properly.
During 13 days in the Eskenazi burn center, he was subjected twice per day to the torture of peeling off the dressings from his chest, legs, arms, and hands, excruciating pain with each, his mother and I fighting back tears to watch this done to him, with tubes and machines connected to him to remove “fluids” that cause swelling. It was like seeing him torn apart again and again every day for 13 more days after the accident, and to hope that this all meant that he was healing without infection and potential death. These were very serious deep tissue damages that the bandages were being pulled from, and twice daily ALL of the bandages had to be removed from his entire chest, both arms, both hands and both thighs. 13 days, (5) significant-area locations on the body, twice daily- basically 130 times of torture if one were to do the math, and actually more than that as there was another serious surgery and continued exchanges that had to be done regularly.
On the 13th day, he had healed up enough they said that he could go home, and this is what he looked like, pus and blood still oozing from the skin grafts (yes he went home on this day)”
The above photo above is AFTER 13 DAYS OF REPAIRS, HEALING, SKIN GRAFTS, AND 4 PUMPS PULLING OUT THE RESULTS OF SWELLING. His leg still severely gouged (no cadaver material for that), his hands still badly damaged. Bandages were still changed daily thereafter for some time.
Garrett was a beautiful young whole man, who would regularly be at a pool, lake or beach with his shirt off enjoying the weather – now he is a physical “side-show” of scar tissue, absent his torso and nipples, and has the appearance of someone who survived being tortured with a blow torch, or from being dragged beneath a car that had no clearance for him to fit – and he is just that. He has some PTSD, unable to ride a motorcycle ever again, and he is permanently debilitated- scarred for life, having a marred body, a dysfunctional right hand, and a financial burden that he may never be able to fully pay.
I have motorcycles – and this father and son had plans to ride in the future to events across the country. I did not ride at all in 2019 after his accident. I have seen what can happen when someone decides they want to leave an accident scene and have been much more fearful about riding. I will never be able to ride with my son again as he has sworn off of riding every again. This has cost us a lifetime of enjoying motorcycles together, a hobby we had shared.
We as a family lost a year of our “normal life” and in its place we have had a year of heartbreak, fear, pain, trauma, drama, and financial stress.
We lost vacations that were planned, time on the golf course, family trips, and the end of the summer and the fall family gatherings, cookouts, Purdue football games, nights out to the movies, and many other things we would have done.
This has cost me and my company substantially in earnings due to the time spent out of work. It has cost Garrett’s mother a great deal of heartbreak in addition to lost work time and financial loss. The hospital costs are fantastic.
And why is Garrett permanently disfigured, handicapped, and why do we have these bills?
  • Because Victoria Gaston chose to drive without insurance.
  • Because Victoria Gaston ignored a “NO LEFT TURN” traffic sign and also ignore the median barrier, and chose to make a left turn over a median barrier, and toward Garrett.
  • Because Victoria Gaston chose to attempt leaving the scene of the accident – after having her rear bumper nearly torn off, while the car behind her was honking and flashing lights for her to stop, while another was chasing her on foot screaming for her to stop.
  • Because the State of Indiana somehow permitted Victoria Gaston to obtain a vehicle registration and a driver’s license in spite of her terrible driving record.
  • Because the City of Indianapolis has permitted Victoria Gaston to continue to drive as penalties were not applied to prevent access to a driver’s license for the many past offenses of driving without a license and insurance (as many as six times or more).
  • Because drugs are so easily accessible in Indianapolis, and Victoria Gaston has access to those drugs and makes use of those illegal drugs, which compromise her decision-making.
And what of justice? We are learning that very little-to-no follow-up investigation work has been completed by the IMPD. No measurements were taken of the scene or of the vehicle. No photographs were taken of Garrett’s injuries. The Prosecution had not even looked at the vehicle to determine if the impact was from behind or from the side, no further investigation was done to determine if Garrett had rolled under the car or if he had been run over (he had a tread mark diagonally up his back). No charges have been filed (that we are aware) other than an OUI. Garrett’s heart is breaking just from the thought that this driver could get away with having hurt him so badly and that it could happen again to someone else by this same driver.
There were five linear “strip marks” and bruises on Garrett’s back, with definitive gaps between each stripe, which were from the car tire “peeling out” up and over his back (while he was only wearing a tee-shirt, the shirt material created some interruptions of the tread friction damage). This also explains how his helmet was able to get beneath the vehicle that had only 5.3” clearance:
Victoria Gaston stopped after the accident, then she sped off, the she finally stopped again but not until she was 75 yards away from the accident scene. Therefore, she did, in fact, leave the scene, explaining this away as “not knowing” she had been in an accident.
The impact was sufficient that both vehicles had to be towed, according to the police report, yet she claims she “did not know”.
The driver who had been following behind Garrett, Cherissa Vaughn Clardy, who holds a Master’s Degree from the IU School of Medicine, stated that “it is impossible that she did not know she had been in an accident”.
Either Victoria Gaston was so “high” that she did not know she had been in an accident that nearly tore off her bumper, or she is lying. I am willing to accept either, but one of those two explanations must apply, so this was either:
  • Operating Under the Influence causing Serious Bodily Injury or
  • A hit-and-run
  • Or both
Garrett and his family continue to be tortured further with the thought that there may potentially be no justice for Garrett if there is no penalty for the negligence, and other good people will be impacted by this individual. Victoria Gaston is a menace to society and needs to be put away for as long as possible. She may not hurt people directly as by shooting them in a robbery, but her flagrant disrespect for the laws that protect innocent people from being injured and, from being without financial help if they are injured by her, have been equally damaging as that of the robber.
In the beginning, we were willing to give the benefit of a doubt to Victoria Gaston, and even requested WRTV6 to have no negative comments about the driver when their news clip was conducted about those who saved Garrett’s life, but then later we learned about:
  • The account by witnesses of the reckless driving of Victoria Gaston prior to the accident, and disregard for others prior to the accident (not just Garrett)
  • The drug-influenced condition that Victoria Gaston was in while driving
  • The disregard she has had for the rules of driving and insuring (per her driving record and court records)
  • The collision damage itself that left Garrett with only bruises and scrapes, but it was the fleeing from the scene and running over Garrett that cause the severe damages to his body – which was not damage caused by the “accident” but by the attempt to flee.
  • The damages to the vehicles that show there was significant contact damages and Victoria Gaston was certainly aware that an accident had occurred given these damages and the sort of person that she remains to be (a repeat offender of the law who is unapologetic; she has not given an apology to Garrett or even asked him of his condition, having had his address information for a year.)
We are no longer in a position of her defense having learned the details of what had occurred and we are asking for appropriate justice to be served. This sort of “thing” may be an “everyday” or frequent occurrence to the IMPD, as it seems murders are an everyday occurrence now in Indianapolis, and thus there may be a lack of enthusiasm to pursue evidence or statements to support this seemingly “menial” case for justice. However, in our view, this was a case of vehicular manslaughter, literally, as Garrett was slaughtered, and whether it was by a gun or a vehicle is of no differential consequence.
If Garrett had not been in excellent physical condition at the time of the accident, he probably would have been killed as most people would have been. Both Garrett and Victoria Gaston are fortunate that he lived, but she did not and will not suffer the impact of it nearly as Garrett and his family have.
We have thanked several people who are truly heroes who were responsible for saving Garrett’s life, but it feels so insufficient. If this perfect set of good people had not been there, if any one of them had not been there, Garrett may not have lived as they pursued the driver until she stopped, and they also lifted the car up off of Garrett so that he could continue breathing. The IFD, the Paramedics, the Doctors and Nurses of Methodist and Eskenazi Hospitals, are all miracle workers having special gifts that they give daily. We do feel blessed that Garrett is alive and to these folks we are forever in their debt.
William Norman
Garrett’s Father
35 Years of Service