12/23/2005California: Toll Road Charges Cancer Patient's Family $43,638
Family pays more attention to helping ease suffering of teenage daughter than to tolls. Officials charge family $43,638.
The Orange County, California Transportation Authority claims the family of David and Elizabeth Casillas owed $43,638 in toll road penalties. The couple admits that it used the 91 Express Lane toll road in Corona without a working transponder between September 2003 and January 2004. The majority of the unpaid trips involved taking their sixteen-year-old daughter Camie to and from the Children's Hospital of Orange County for treatment of type-ALL leukemia.
"We're just enjoying our time with her," Elizabeth Casillas, 35, said. The family, at times, kept an around-the-clock vigil in Camie's hospital room.
Easing their daughter's suffering was the only thing on the couple's mind -- they gave little thought to the unpaid tolls, which only amounted to $140.84. They expected to pay both the tolls along with a reasonable penalty sometime later. Instead, officials charged the family nearly $500 for each of the ninety untolled trips.
"I figured they would have sent me a $50 fine or something," Elizabeth Casillas told the Press-Enterprise. "When you have a sick child in your car, that is the last thing on your mind."
Casillas had a FasTrak transponder in the car, but it was linked to a bank card account that had closed. Casillas failed to update the account.
Ignoring the family's plight, toll road officials recently forced the family to pay a $10,000 settlement by blocking their attempt to refinance their home to pay medical bills. This penalty came on top of a stroke that disabled David Casillas, 31, last July and Camie's death from cancer last December.