MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A man fled the country after he was involved in a crash which severely injured a Florida Highway Patrol trooper more than a decade ago appeared before a Miami-Dade judge on Thursday.
During the proceeding Samuel Silva, 43, entered a plea of not guilty.
The trooper he severely injured, Marisa Sanders, attended the arraignment. She said faith has kept her going and she will never fully recover from her injuries. Sanders’ injuries forced her to leave the FHP. She now does volunteer work and work for her church.
“I’ll be dealing with this for the rest of my life,” said Sanders.
Speaking after Silva appeared in court, the former trooper said she takes life one day at a a time, dealing with the injuries that ended her career.
“It’s not as if the injuries will ever go away–they won’t. But for whatever I need to do I do that, stay in prayer, and thank my God and I’m still here,” said Sanders.
She said she wants to see him take responsibility for his actions.
Sanders says she wants Silva to take responsibility for his actions–something he has not been able to do.
Silva was captured in Panama last week by US Marshals and was brought back to South Florida on June 2nd.
Silva was convicted of DUI in 2001 and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison after his truck plowed into Sanders’ patrol cruiser on I-95 at 117th Street. Sanders cruiser exploded and she suffered severe burns on 80-percent of her body.
Silva appealed his conviction and was released on bond. By the time the court upheld his conviction in 2004, Silva was gone.
His first stop was his hometown of Puerto Rico. He then bounced around to Spain, Guatamala, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Authorities said that Silva got a fake passport under a family member’s name and was living under the alias when they caught up with him in Panama City.
Silva was taken to Miami-Dade County Jail. In addition to serving out his nine and a half years for the DUI crash, he’s also facing additional federal charge for fleeing. He could be looking at an additional five years in prison.
Silva is being held on no bond.