Shortly after a car struck 66-year-old Juan Pablo Hernandez Rodriguez in a Fairfax City crosswalk Dec. 23, he was talking, stood up and initially didn’t want to be taken to a hospital, police said.
When Rodriguez did go to Inova Fairfax Hospital, scans showed that he had no broken bones. Doctors gave him pain medication and crutches to ease his sore knee, elbow and back, and then they sent him home, family members said.
Five days later, Rodriguez was dead.
Virginia’s chief medical examiner has determined that Rodriguez died of a liver laceration sustained in the crash, which police allege was the driver’s fault. Rodriguez, a janitor at a McLean Chicken Out restaurant, leaves behind eight grown children and a wife who believes that doctors should have done more to treat his injuries.
Doctors at the hospital “did what they thought was right,” Rodriguez’s wife, Blanca Elba Albarenga, said in Spanish through an interpreter, surrounded by family members in the couple’s Fairfax apartment. “They should have left him there a couple of days more to see if he had a serious injury.”
Rodriguez’s family has built a shrine that features lighted candles and an oversize photo of him in a suit. Relatives said that Rodriguez did not have health insurance and that they do not have the money to pay for his funeral.
Inova officials declined to comment on Rodriguez’s treatment because of patient privacy laws.
Rodriguez, who lived in the 3300 block of Willow Crescent Drive, was crossing Eaton Place around 5:15 p.m. Dec. 23 when he was hit by a Honda Civic turning left from the Chain Bridge Road service road, police said. Rodriguez was in the crosswalk and had the “walk” signal, police said. His family said he was returning home from work.
The driver of the Honda, Kyung Boo You, 44, of Fairfax, was charged with failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, police said. The car was going about 15 mph and there was no visible damage to it, police said, adding that neither speed nor alcohol was a factor in the crash. No other charges are pending, police said.
Family members said Rodriguez was treated for about seven hours at Inova Fairfax on the night of the crash. He went home and was initially on the mend. At one point, police said that Rodriguez complained of chest and back pain and went to a chiropractor, who told him to go to the hospital.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez began to complain about chills and back pain and saw blood in his urine, Albarenga said. An ambulance took Rodriguez back to Inova Fairfax, where he died Wednesday.
Family members said they have contacted a lawyer and are exploring possible legal action.