Woman whose leg severed in boating incident seeks justice

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 8:06 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It took three years, but Wednesday the case of a young woman whose life was forever changed by a boating incident made it to a local courtroom.

The young woman lost her leg in the accident on the Calcasieu River. At the time, the driver of the boat was arrested.

The boat driver Jason Comeaux came to court to possibly resolve the charges against him, but that didn’t happen. He did end up with a trial date.

As for the victim Paula Gonzales, she spoke about the day that changed her life forever.

It was July 28, 2018. Gonzales went from the boat to the water to look for her glasses when the propeller hit her.

“This is the last place I was seen with two legs, matter of fact. My right leg got caught with the propeller. I died twice. I flat-lined twice in the OR and once in the helicopter,” Gonzales said at the Civic Center seawall.

Comeaux was arrested and charged with first degree vehicular negligent injury, misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and careless operation.

“Oh, it changed my whole life. I was 26 when this happened. I had two legs. I had two legs for 26 years, and having a prosthetic for the past two years, it’s a very different lifestyle,” Gonzales said.

She hopes others will be aware of the potentially tragic results of driving a boat while under the influence.

“Be very careful of your surroundings. It’s not just yourself. It’s the people who are by you,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales will soon turn 30, and she cherishes life. She tries to inspire others.

“I have a little circle of people with traumatic accidents that I talk to daily, people with emotional support, with depression, stuff like that,” she said.

Gonzales now lives in Houston and came to Lake Charles for Comeaux’s court appearance.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” Gonzales said.

It was a day she hoped she might find “justice,” but the charges were not resolved, and Comeaux’s trial is set for September 20.

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