MIAMI (CBSMiami) – William Peden and Martin Lutz were waiting for a bus at an Oakland Park bus stop in late March, debating where to go for a bite to eat and to watch a Miami Marlins baseball game.
Seconds later, their lives were forever changed.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says the Glen Sturman, an employee driver of a Broward County pool company, Designer Pools & Spa FX, drove his work truck onto the sidewalk and hit Peden and Lutz.
Peden, who was already missing his right leg from a medical procedure a few years ago, lost his left leg in the accident. Lutz, survived for several weeks before succumbing to his injuries.
Peden remembers little of the crash.
“All of a sudden, boom,” he said. “I’m laying on top of him and the last I heard I is someone saying, ‘Call 911.’”
Peden and Lutz were in intensive care, and Peden wasn’t expected to survive. He did, but Lutz did not.
“That’s the worst of it,” Peden said. “We were buddies for 16 years.”
Peden said their friendship began as construction workers and soon the men were roommates, with Lutz helping Peden manage the loss of his leg. Peden said it was a friendship based on humor, sports and how different they were.
“He was a college graduate. I was a high school dropout,” he said through tears. “Just tough.”
Peden now faces a future of therapy and assisted living.
“How did this happen?” he wondered. “Senseless. 3 lives ruined. His, mine and the guy that hit us.”
CBS4 News did some digging into the background of the driver, Sturman.
Court records show he’s got a criminal history in Broward dating back several years. He’s been charged on numerous occasions with possessing drugs. In the March crash, investigators suspected Sturman was under the influence.
A deputy made the following “observations of the impairment on the driver — restricted pupils, red watery eyes, flushed face, sluggish movements, dozing off as he spoke and slurred mumbled speech.” The deputy “believed the suspect was under the influence of alcohol and/or chemical substances and/or controlled substances to the extent his normal faculties were impaired.”
A search warrant obtained by CBS4 News seems to confirm those suspicions.
The warrant says “the results of the Final Toxicology Report advised Glen Coleman Sturman was under the influence of Xanax when the crash occurred.”
Attorney Todd Falzone is representing Peden. He said he is investigating how Sturman was able to get a job driving a truck.
“The company is responsible for his negligence,” Falzone explained. “It is inexplicable that a person with his background and his trouble would be permitted to operate motor vehicle by a company.”
Peden wonders that as well.
“I think (the pool company is) just as much to blame as he is,” Peden said. “Seriously, I do. To put somebody behind their vehicle and trust a guy like him, they never checked his background or they didn’t care.”
The owners of the pool company did not want to speak with CBS4 News. However, their attorney, Skip Campbell, told CBS4 News they are devastated by the crash.
Campbell said the driver, Sturman, only worked for them for about three weeks when the accident occurred. Campbell also said that the owners checked Sturman’s driving history and his employment history but they did not check his criminal history.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office told CBS4 News they do expect to file criminal charges against Sturman in this case.