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DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D. C., March 16, 1948. Hon. EARL C. MICHENER,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives. DEAR MR. MICHENER: The Department of the Army would have no objection to the enactment of H. R. 4318, Eightieth Congress, à bill for the relief of Lilly (Lydia). Velez, if it should be amended as hereinafter recommended.
This bill would authorize and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum
of $5,000, to Lilly (Lydia) Velez, who was injured on June 11, 1944, when a United States Army truck overturned on Insular Highway No. 25, between Catano and Santurce, P. R. in full settlement of all claims against the United States on account of such accident.
On June 11, 1944, at about 8:15 p. m., an Army truck, operated by an enlisted man engaged in the authorized mission of transporting 23 girls who had attended an authorized battery picnic, was proceeding south on Insular Highway No. 25 between Catano and Santurce, P. R. It was raining and the road was wet. The evidence indicates that the Army driver was operating his vehicle at an excessive speed and that when rounding a left curve he lost control of the vehicle, which thereupon ran off the road to the left, struck and knocked down a tree g inches in diameter, and then overturned; 1 of the passengers in the truck was instantly killed, 2 others sustained injuries from which they later died, and 13, including Miss Lydia Velez (referred to in H. R. 4318 as "Lilly" Velez), sustained personal injuries.
Miss Velez was taken from the scene of the accident to the Bayamon District Hospital, at Bayamon, P. R., for the treatment of her injuries. On June 22, 1944, Dr. Fernando Asencio, surgeon in chief of that institution, submitted the following statement:
“Lily Velez (Lydia Velez) was admitted at this hospital on June 12, 1944, with superficial wound in the left occipital region about 1 inch long. There are several slight contusions with hematoma over the right arm. In the chest there was also clinical evidence of superficial injury over the left lateral surface. However, an X-ray report of the chest given by Dr. Landron Becerra shows there is no definite evidence of pathology. The patient was not hospitalized and was treated only as an emergency case.
“There was a cast to the right arm and the patient was given back an order to return in 3 weeks. Consequently, a final, ultimate certificate as to disability should follow."
Miss Lydia Velez is presently a mental patient in the Rockland State Hospital, Orangeburg, N. Y. In response to an inquiry addressed to that institution by this Department with a view to ascertaining, if possible, whether there is any causal connection between the mental disability from which Miss Velez is now suffering and the injuries sustained by her in the accident of June 11, 1944, Dr. R. E. Blaisdell, senior director, Rockland State Hospital, in a letter, dated January 19, 1948, stated:
"I am unable to give an opinion as to the causal relationship between the mental disability from which Miss Velez now suffers and the injury sustained by her in the accident of June 11, 1944."
"Miss Velez at the time of this accident was 20 years of age, and was a student telephone operator, earning $30 a month. It appears that she did not return to this employment after the accident, and the Department has no information concerning any subsequent employment in which Miss Velez may have engaged. Miss Velez is the daughter of Manuel Velez and his wife, Mrs. Rafaela Roldan de Velez, of Bayamon, P. R. There was no one who was dependent upon Miss Velez for support at the time of her injury on June 11, 1944. The Department has no record of any medical or hospital expenses incurred by Miss Velez on account of her injury.' It does not appear that any workmen's compensation benefits or insurance was paid or awarded to Miss Velez by reason of her injury in this accident.
No claim has been filed by or on behalf of Miss Velez on account of her injury in this accident.
The evidence in this case fairly establishes that this accident and the resulting injuries sustained by Miss Lydia Velez were not caused by any fault or negligence on her part but were caused solely by the negligence of the driver of the Army vehicle involved in the accident in rounding a curve on a wet road at an excessive speed while transporting 23 passengers. The Department of the Army, therefore, believes that this claimant should be compensated in a reasonable amount for
the personal injuries sustained by her as a result of said accident. The proposed award of $5,000 stated in H. R. 4318 appears to be somewhat excessive, since the evidence available to this Department does not indicate that the injuries sustained by Miss Velez in the accident of June 11, 1944, were serious, and since no casual connection appears to have been established between such injuries and her present mental condition. The Department, however, would have no objection to the enactment of the bill if it should be amended to provide for an award in an amount not exceeding $1,000, which, it is believed, would constitute a fair and reasonable settlement for all of the damages sustained by Miss Velez as a result of this accident.
Attention is invited to the fact that while this claimant is named in the bill as "Lilly" Velez and in various papers relating to her claim as "Lilly” or “Lily" Velez, a certified copy of her birth certificate contained in the files of the Department of the Army shows that she was named “Lydia” Velez. The bill, therefore, should be amended to show the claimant's name to be Lydia Velez.
In view of the fact that Miss Velez is now confined in a mental institution, it is the opinion of this Department that any award made by the Congress for her benefit should be paid to a guardian.
If this bill is favorably considered by the Congress, it is recommended that the title and text of the bill be amended to read as follows:
A BILL For the relief of the legal guardian of Lydia Velez “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to pay, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to the legal guardian of Lydia Velez, Rockland State Hospital, Orangeburg, New York, the sum of $1,000, in full settlement of all claims against the United States arising out of the personal injury of said Lydia Velez as the result of an accident involving a United States Army truck on Insular Highway Numbered 25, between Catano and Santurce, Puerto Rico, on June 11, 1944: Provided, That no part of the amount appropriated in this Act in excess of 10 per centum thereof shall be paid or delivered to or received by any agent or agents, or attorney or attorneys, on account of services rendered in connection with this claim, and the same shall be unlawful, any contract to the contrary notwithstanding. Any person violating the provisions of this Act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding $1,000.'
Miss Velez has no remedy under the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act of August 2, 1946 (60 Stat. 842; 28 U. S. C. 921), for the reason that the accident in which she was injured occurred prior to January 1, 1945.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that there is no objection to the submission of this report. Sincerely yours,
KENNETH C. ROYALL,
Secretary of the Army.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D. C., August 9, 1948. Hon. EARL C. MICHENER,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives. DEAR MR. MICHENER: The Department of the Army has no objection to the enactment of H. R. 3163, Eightieth Congress, a bill for the relief of Gladys Prieto.
This bill provides as follows: “That the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to pay, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of $5,000 to Gladys Prieto, who was injured while traveling in a United States Army truck from Fort Mascaro to Fort Buchanan on June 11, 1944. The payment of such sum shall be in full settlement of all claims against the United States on account of such accident."
On June 11, 1944, at about 8:15 p. m., an Army truck, operated by an enlisted man engaged in the authorized mission of transporting 23 girls who had attended an authorized battery picnic, was proceeding south on Insular Highway No. 25 between Catano and Santurce, Puerto Rico. It was raining and the road was wet. The evidence indicates that the Army driver was operating his vehicle at an excessive speed and that when rounding a left curve he lost control of the vehicle, which thereupon ran off the road to the left, struck and knocked down a tree 9 inches in diameter, and then overturned; 1 of the passengers in the truck was
instantly killed, 2 others sustained injuries from which they later died, and 13, including Miss Gladys Prieto, sustained personal injuries.
Miss Prieto was taken from the scene of the accident to the Bayamon District Hospital, at Bayamon, P. R., for the treatment of her injuries. On April 10, 1948, Dr. Fernando Asencio, surgeon in chief of that institution, submitted the following statement:
“Gladys Prieto, age 16, was admitted to this hospital with an admission diagnosis of fracture of the neck of the humerus and possible fracture of the hip joint. The patient was hospitalized on the same day. The radiologic report given by Dr. Landron Becerra reads as follows:
“ 'There is a fracture of the right pubis with subluxations of the right sacro-iliac joint and of the symphysis pubis. The entire right inominate bone is displaced upward. There is a fracture of the surgical neck of the left humerus with dislocation. The head of the bone is displaced laterally and downward.'
“Due to the extensive injuries of this patient, a consultation with the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Friedman, was made. The patient was scheduled for reduction of the dislocation of the humerus on June 22, 1944.
“The ultimate diagnosis, as well as the grade of disability, could not be determined as yet.
“The following correspondence and certificates to that effect were given as follows: On April 1945 a letter stating the dates of hospitalization were given which stated that from June 11, 1944, to September 20, 1944, she was hospitalized and on April 2, 1945 she was still under physiotherapy. The patient has not been observed in this hospital since then."
On April 26, 1948, Capt. William H. Hagan, Medical Corps, United States Army, after a physical examination at Miss Prieto of the Rodriguez General Hospital, Fort Brooke, San Juan, P. R., submitted the following report:
“CERTIFICATE OF PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF MISS GLADYS PRIETO “History (as given by patient): In 1944 returning from an Army picnic in an Army truck, the patient sustained multiple injuries when the vehicle was involved in an accident. She claims to have been unconscious for approximately 1 day, was treated at Charity District Hospital at Bayamon, P. R., with traction to the right leg and left arm for 2 months, then by operation on the left shoulder followed by body cast for 2 months, then physiotherapy three times a week for 5 months. For some reason, the left arm was allegedly returned to a plaster cast for 2 weeks.
“The present complaints are:
“4. Apprehension that she will be unable to have normal pelvic delivery in the event of childbirth. • Eramination
"1. Right upper extremity normal. "2. Left upper extremity: There is no limitation of passive movement of the left shoulder. There is limitation, probably voluntary, of active abduction to 90° and of forward flexion to 145o; no limitation of internal or external rotation or extension. There is 5o limitation of extension and 15° limitation of flexion to active and passive motion of the left elbow; no limitation of pronation or supination; waist and hand normal.
"3. Lower extremities, spine and pelvis normal except for evidence of old fracture of the pubic rami.
“X-rays of the skull, chest, left shoulder, pelvis, and hip joints were taken on April 9, 1948. A-P and lateral films of the left elbow were taken on April 15, 1948. "Impression
“1. Fracture, old, us, left, well healed, without significant deformity. "2. Fractures, old, pubic rami, bilateral, we!! healed with slight displacement
“3. Deformity, elbow, left, manifested by 5o limitation of extension and 15° limitation of flexion.
“4. The films of the skull, chest, and left elbow are negative. “Remarks
"It is my estimate that this woman has less than 10-percent permanent disability."
Miss Prieto was 16 years of age and unemployed at the time of her injury in this accident. She lived with her parents and was a student at the Central High School, Santurce, P. R.
On August 1, 1947, the War Department paid to Miss Prieto the sum of $275 for medical and hospital expenses incurred as a result of her injury on June 11; 1944, under the provisions of the act of July 3, 1943 (57 Stat. 372; 31 U. S. C. 223b), as amended. There is no statute available to the Department of the Army under which any amount may be paid administratively to Miss Prieto on account of the personal injuries sustained by her in this accident.
The evidence fairly established that this accident and the resulting personal injuries sustained by Miss Gladys Prieto were not caused by any fault or negligence on her part but were caused solely by the negligence of the driver of the Army vehicle involved in the accident in rounding a curve on a wet road at an excessive speed while transporting 23 passengers. The Department of the Army, therefore, believes that this claimant should be compensated in a reasonable amount for the personal injuries sustained by her in said accident. Considering the serious nature of the injuries sustained by Miss Prieto, which have resulted in a considerable degree of permanent disability, and the pain and suffering undergone by her, it is the view of the Department that the proposed award of $5,000 stated in H. R. 3163 is fair and reasonable. The Department, accordingly, has no objection to the enactment of this bill.
The claimant has no remedy under the Federal Tort Claims Act (60 Stat. 842; 28 U.S. C. 921) for the reason that the accident in which she was injured occurred prior to January 1, 1945.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that there is no objection to the submission of this report. Sincerely yours,
KENNETH C. ROYALL,
Secretary of the Army.
SWORN STATEMENT I, Manuel IVélez, under oath declare that I am named as said above, of age, married, and of this vicinity.
That on the 9th of June of the year 1919 I married Rafaela Roldán of which marriage seven children have been born, one of them registered under the name of Lydia Vélez Roldán.
That since a child we as well as all her friends called her Lilly instead of Lydia, and at present known as such, even though her real name is Lydia, being the same person that appears registered on folio 576 of book 15 and under the number 911 of the civil register of Santurce, P. R.
And in order that it be of record, I sign this at San Juan, P. R., today the 5th of March 1948.
AFFIDAVIT NO. 6694
Sworn and signed before me by Mr. Manuel Vélez, of the above-mentioned personal circumstances and who I know personally in San Juan, P. R., today the 5th of March 1948.
GUAYNABO, P. R., June 13, 1948. Number: 616. From: Chief Commander of the District I. P. Guaynabo. To: Chief of the Insular Police, Int. San Juan. Subject: Accident military truck (2 dead 20 wounded).
1. To inform V. H. that in June 11, 1944, at 9 p. m. Bo. Sabana of Guaynabo, P. R. road No. 25, Km. 3-2, the military Truck No. W3441272, property of the U. S. Army, Camp Buchanan, driven by Pvt. Félix J. González Battery soldier, No. 35 H. D. C. A. Camp Buchanan, crashed with an almond tree which broke and then crashing with another almond tree, overturning, the result of which a group of ladies that were traveling in this truck, the lady Francisca Sánchez, white, 42 years old, living in Loiza Street, No. 58, Santurce, P. R. Dead instantaneously, as a result of fractures of the brain and other blows received on the body; next day. Mrs. María Luisa Sosa, white, 26 years old. living on Serra
Street, No. 72, Santurce, and who was hospitalized in the District Hospital of Bayamón, Dead, as a result of blows received. The following ladies who were traveling in the said truck, Emma López, white 16 years old, living on Serra Street, No. 71, Santurce; Lucy Delgado, white, 23 years old, living in Borinquen Avenue, Santurce; Gladys Prieto, white, 16 years old, living in Monserrate Street, stop 1572 Santurce; Lydia Cortés, white 17 years old, Palacios Street, No. 36, Santurce; Carmen Batista, white, 23 years old, living in Serra Street, No. 13, stop 15, Santurce; Aida Morales, white, 20 years old, living in Santurce; Rosa Cruz Avilés, white, 17 years old, living at Santurce; and Alejandrina Cruz Santana, white, 20 years old, living in Santurce; were hospitalized in the District Hospital of Bayamón, due to fractures of the arms, legs, major wounds, and hard blows received. Furthermore, María Victoria López, living in Serra Street, No. 72, Santurce; Julia López, living in Serra Street, No. 71, Santurce; Ana Luisa Quintero, living in La Paloma Street, No. 9, Santurce: Rosa Jaria Oliveras, living in Serra Street, No. 71, Santurce; Carmen Morales Sánchez, living in Loiza Street, No. 58, Santurce; Julia Elena Díaz, living in Willian Street, No. 9, Barrio brero, Santurce; Patria Vélez, living in Betances Street, No. 36, Santurce; Irma Delgado, living in Olmeda Street, No. 91, Santurce; Julia Esther Díaz, living in William Street, No. 91, Santurce; Julia E. Diaz, living in Palacios Street, No. 103, Santurce; Lily López, living in Tapia Street, No. 113, Santurce; and Lydia Ortíz, living in Palacios Street, No. 85, Santurce; were cured of wounds and mild blows and were sent to their respective homes.
2. Having done the pertinent investigation by the undersigned and Policeman Felixberto Montalvo No. 854, from the detachment of the Bo. Sabana of this district, and Policeman Emilio Morales No. 1362, who did not witness the facts, and established in the said place and with the pertinent statements by the persons who were traveling in the said truck, already mentioned, it is understood that the accident occurred in the following way:
While the truck was traveling toward Punta Salinas from Toa Baja to Santurce, from where they were returning from a party in the USO Club, when they arrived at the place already mentioned, at great speed and with three ladies in the front seat by his side, and in pleasant talk, at this instant one of the ladies put her arm around his neck, the wheel went out of control which caused the accident, with the results mentioned above. This case was first notified to the Honorable judge of peace of this town and then to the Honorable district attorney of the District of Bayamón, who proceeded with the investigation of the same, taking oath statements from the ladies that were hospitalized in the hospital of the district. In regard to the driver (soldier) he was hospitalized in the Military Hospital Camo Buchanan, and who also received major blows and being at the same time under arrest by the military authorities of the said camp.
3. Up to date it has not been determined if the accusation against the said chauffeur is going to be under the military authorities or under the Honorable District Attorney of the District, I was thus informed yesterday by the said district attorney.
(Signed) José A. LÓPEZ VÉLEZ, Sargeant I. P. Committee of the Districh