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$80 Million Awarded to Family of Woman Buried Alive in Horrific New Mexico Accident

A judge in New Mexico has awarded $80 million to the family of a woman who died in 2002 when a tractor-trailer hit her car, flipped and filled her car with sand, killing her as horrified bystanders watched helplessly.

Laura Miera of Albuquerque was waiting at a traffic light when the semi exited the highway and barreled down on the stationary vehicle.

The Albuquerque Redi-Mix truck hit her car and forced it to the curb before it rolled on its side, spilling thousands of pounds of sand on her car, trapping and ultimately suffocating her.

Bystanders tried to dig out the 48-year-old woman by hand and on person tried to comfort Miera as the car filled with sand.

"It was devastating," Jacob Vigil, the attorney who has represented Miera's family in their 10-year legal fight, told the Associated Press. "The school counselor was holding her hand, praying while the sand just rose above her head, and the counselor just kept saying 'Squeeze my hand if you can hear me.' She squeezed for a while until she died."

According to the lawsuit, the semi involved in the crash had an expired registration, three brakes out of adjustment, and a driver with two previous DWI charges. Unsafe trucks on the road is seen as a real problem.

"This is a chronic problem across the country," Vigil said. "There are thousands and thousands of trucking deaths every year. It's 25, 50 tons of moving metal at highway speed. They're dangerous."

New Mexico District Judge Shannon Bacon awarded $60 million in punitive damages Laura Miera's estate and her husband, Jose, and daughter, Cassandra.

The judgment was levied against Albuquerque Redi-Mix, Quintana Enterprises Inc., the companies' owners, John and Barbara Quintana and truck driver Truman Bahe.

In a response to the lawsuit, the Quintanas denied violating any state or federal regulations and said the crash and related injuries resulted from the action of others.

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