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Peruvian suing for $400,000 in accident with missionary

LIMA, Peru (BP)–A Peruvian businessman is seeking payment for damages from the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board’s missionary organization in Peru, and specifically missionary Wade Watts, relating to an auto accident last year.

In a lawsuit filed Jan. 24 in Peru, the plaintiff claims Watts and the Peru Baptist Mission should pay for losses–which he placed at $400,000–as a result of an auto accident on a mountain road outside of Huancayo, south of Lima.

The mission has until Feb. 7 to file a response to the case. Missionary officials were gathering reports and receipts related to the medical care of Watts and his family. A missionary spokesman estimated the cost of their care to date at more than $600,000.

Police initially faulted no one. But surprisingly, a police report on record now pins the blame on Watts, the spokesman added.

The February 1996 accident left the plaintiff with broken bones and injuries to his mid-section. Watts, 41, suffered injuries to the brain and internal organs and, for some time, was too unstable to be moved from Peru. In the United States, he lay in a coma until late last summer. His movement even now is limited almost to the point of total paralysis.

Lawyers for the mission consider the plaintiff’s claim exaggerated, the missionary spokesman said; they believe more than half of the expenses listed are unfounded.

In the accident, Watts’ wife, Nancy, 36, and their two sons, Joshua and Marcus, also sustained injuries. Nancy and Joshua, 8, are fully recovered now. Marcus–like Watts–underwent brain surgery in Peru before being airlifted to Memphis, Tenn. Doctors say Marcus, 10, has recovered 90 percent of his physical and mental capacity.

Nancy and the boys were sleeping at the time of impact, and the plaintiff was in shock and unable to recall events leading up to the crash, according to earlier reports.

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