PORTAGE | A Portage jury on Thursday awarded $1.25 million to an area resident whose foot was run over and badly crushed during an accident four years ago.

The injured man's attorney, Kenneth J. Allen, said the verdict appears to be an Indiana record for this type of injury and the highest ever awarded in a courtroom at the North Porter County Government Center in Portage.

"The jury worked hard to do the right thing, deciding that this injury will have life-long consequences to Aaron (Jones, the injured man), whose life expectancy is 57.8 more years," Allen said.

"The jury took into account the fact that he can't come back to court 10 years from now when his condition becomes more disabling, so the verdict included money for future problems. The jury's verdict was fair and just."

Jones, 23, who lived in Valparaiso but who now lives in Hammond, was struck Dec. 13, 2003, on Interstate 65 in DeMotte. Jones was a student returning from Indiana University Bloomington in a pickup truck driven by Ray Ramirez III, 25, of Valparaiso. Ramirez spun out on the black ice he encountered on a northbound bridge. He truck hit a guardrail and became disabled, blocking the northbound passing lane.

While Jones attempted to move the truck off the road, Mark Franciose, 19, lost control of his car and hit the guardrail and disabled pickup truck, running over Jones' foot and crushing bones.

"My passion is geology and this injury makes it difficult for me to do my job and complete my doctorate," said Jones, who is working for the Indiana Geological Survey and who is pursuing a doctoral degree in geology.

"The jury's verdict will help me focus on my career goals without worrying over medical bills I can't afford."

The jury served under Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode.

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