La Jolla teen crash victims recovering from their injuries

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By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

Three and one-half months after being struck by a car that went out of control at a roundabout before crashing into Cass Street Cafe, three injured Bird Rock teens — Alani Aguerre, Myles Polger and Ian Brininstool — are resuming their lives while continuing their recovery.

Meanwhile the next court dates were rescheduled last week for 66-year-old Ronald Troyer, who was charged with three counts of suspicion of felony drunk driving following the Aug. 15 Bird Rock crash. At the time of the incident, Troyer, who has a history of substance abuse, was driving on a suspended license.

“The new readiness conference for him has been set for Jan. 12, and the new jury trial date is Feb. 2,” said David Uyar, the prosecuting attorney in the case.

Santiago Aguerre, whose daughter, Alani, was the most seriously injured teen in the incident, said she is back to school at Bishop’s and “not using crutches anymore” following several surgeries to repair multiple broken bones in her hip and appendages.

“She’s in good spirits,” he said, noting the incident hasn’t shaken his family’s solidarity. “We’re always together. We come from Latin roots: That’s what we do.”

Aguerre added, though, that he remains troubled by two things.

“We need to pass legislation to make it mandatory for someone registering a car to have a driver’s license and a clean record,” he said. “And something should be done to increase protection at roundabouts.”

Aguerre doesn’t blame roundabouts for the incident that injured the three teens who were walking on La Jolla Boulevard that August evening. But he said there are measures that can be taken, such as embedding 6-foot-high metal or cement columns in the ground at dangerous spots along roundabouts that can act like guard rails slowing or diverting errant vehicles away from pedestrians.

Youthful actor Ian Brininstool, who had the least severe injuries from the Aug. 15 crash, initially he feared his broken leg would keep him from performing in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. But he didn’t allow the accident to deter him from that date in New York City.

“I was able to have a personal physical therapist on site at the theater working with me an hour every day to get me on stage for the first time on Nov. 17, and I’ve been doing two shows every day since then,” he said in a phone interview from New York Monday, adding he will have given nearly 60 performances by the time the show finishes at the end of December.

Lorne Polger and his son Myles and the rest of their family were in New York City over Thanksgiving weekend where they paid Brininstool a visit and saw his show.

“It was kind of a car-crash reunion,” quipped Ian, who added they’re working on Alani’s family to allow her to come out and see his show before it closes.

Lorne Polger said his son is much improved though he’s still in a cast, which, he said, will hopefully be removed by the end of the month.

“From there he’ll go into a longer-term physical therapy program,” he said. “He started to take his first steps this past week. He was on crutches and wasn’t allowed to put any weight on his leg.”

Polger said his son “was transformed” once he got out of his wheelchair.

“He went back to being a precocious 14-year-old again,” he joked. “He’s enjoying school and wants to get back on the athletic field, which he hopefully will have an opportunity to do by next summer.”

Basketball is Myles’ favorite sport.