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Family sets up accounts to help pay medical expenses for Massena woman

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MASSENA - The family of a Massena woman who received extensive injuries in a March head-on collision is trying to raise money to help pay her thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Eva P. Waters was driving a compact car when she was hit head-on by a heavy-duty pick-up truck during the March 27 accident near the International Bridge. She spent two days in an induced coma at Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt., and continued to remain hospitalized for another two weeks before spending four months in a Malone nursing home undergoing extensive rehabilitation.

It took rescue workers about 45 minutes to extricate her from her vehicle. Her injuries included two fractured ankles, a broken femur, multiple broken ribs, a bruised lung, broken wrist and other internal injuries.

“She said she saw him coming up over the hill and her only thought was her daughter, who was graduating this year,” said Barb Gardner, Ms. Waters’s sister.

Four surgeries later, the bills for treating Ms. Waters continue to pile up, according to Ms. Gardner.

“The last I knew, it was a half a million (dollars),” she said.

Ms. Gardner said she still isn’t sure if Joseph A. Back II, the driver of the pick-up truck that his Ms. Waters, had insurance. If so, she said, nothing has been paid to Ms. Waters at this point.

Mr. Back, 54, of 494 River Road, Hogansburg, pleaded not guilty in July in St. Lawrence County Court to first-degree assault, second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree vehicular assault, two counts of second-degree vehicular assault, aggravated driving while intoxicated and two counts of driving while intoxicated.

Police alleged that his blood alcohol content was 0.26 percent on the night of the accident. He also struck two other vehicles in the accident on Route 37 just east of the entrance to the port of entry in Rooseveltown. Assistant District Attorney Joshua A. HaberkornHalm said in July that it was Mr. Back’s seventh alcohol-related driving incident.

“I find it appalling that our judicial system would allow people who have so many DWI’s to keep slipping through the cracks in the name of addiction. There is something wrong. People can make the choice to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, call a friend or call a cab,” Ms. Waters said.

“I get annoyed hearing about the poor person who gets the DWI will suffer financially as well as their family. This person made the choices. What about the victims and their families who had nothing to do with what the drunken driver decided to do?” she said.

Mr. Back was released under the supervision of probation with restrictions to include he not consume alcohol or enter any establishment that sells alcohol.

Ms. Waters, meanwhile, continues to mend at home and watch the medical bills pile up. She now uses a walker to get around.

“They didn’t know for sure if she was ever going to be able to walk again. One of the pins was up her left ankle,” Ms. Gardner said.

“My family and myself have been caused great emotional, physical and financial stress due to all of this,” Ms. Waters said.

Ms. Gardner has placed collection jugs in Massena to accept donations, and she said those have done well.

But, she said, there are two other avenues that others can use to donate to Ms. Waters.

“The first way of making a donation is to donate to a special account set up for Eva Waters at the Twin Rivers Federal Credit Union at 23 Phillips Street in Massena,” she said.

Donors can simply indicate they wish to make a contribution to the fund, and it will be put into that account, which has about $400 right now, according to Ms. Gardner.

Individuals can also donate from their computers by going on-line to A special account for Ms. Waters has been set up there.

“Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide,” Ms. Gardner said.

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