THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Man hurt in crash forgotten, sister says

Criticizes coverage focusing on Brady

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / September 11, 2010

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The passenger in the minivan that was involved in the accident with Tom Brady on Thursday morning suffered a broken back and other ailments, and underwent a series of surgeries yesterday, his sister said, calling him a victim who was forgotten during the media frenzy over the star football player.

“Why? Because we’re poor, we don’t have money, because Tom Brady is famous,’’ said the sister of Rogerio Rodrigues, the 49-year-old Fall River man who was injured in the accident in the Back Bay. The sister, who was contacted by the Globe, asked that she not be identified to avoid further involvement with publicizing the case.

Rodrigues, a father of five, suffered critical injuries, including a broken nose as well as the broken back, she said, and underwent several surgeries over the past two days. He remained hospitalized yesterday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

His 21-year-old son, Ludgero, was cited in the accident with running a red light and causing the crash, and issued a $150 fine. He has a lengthy driving record for violations such as speeding and driving with improper equipment, though the Globe learned yesterday that a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol that is listed on his record was dismissed because it was another man who was arrested and used his identity. He is seeking to have it expunged.

Police said that Ludgero Rodrigues was driving the family’s 1997 Mercury Villager minivan on Commonwealth Avenue at around 6:30 a.m. when he ran the red light and smashed into Brady’s 2009 Audi S8, which was crossing Commonwealth Avenue where it intersects Gloucester Street. Brady’s $97,000 car was a loaner from Audi through his partnership with the charity Best Buddies.

Brady, though shaken up, was not injured and practiced at Gillette Stadium hours after the accident. Later Thursday he signed a contract for $72 million over four years.

Brady did not comment yesterday, and his agent and personal assistant did not return calls. His father, Tom Brady Sr., said in a brief phone interview that his son was well and “looking forward to Sunday,’’ the Patriots’ season opener. His father said his son has a new car, but could not say what kind and it was not clear if it was through Best Buddies.

Asked whether Brady plans to reach out to the Rodrigues family, his father said he did not know but “he’s got a very full agenda.’’

“He hopes the passenger of the car is healthy, and we’re keeping him in the family prayers,’’ the elder Brady said.

Rogerio Rodrigues’s sister said her brother was heading to St. Elizabeth Medical Center Thursday morning for treatment of a back injury. He was lying in the back of the van when the accident occurred, which worsened his injuries.

“His son was driving because he had a very bad back problem,’’ the sister said.

She said Ludgero Rodrigues swears he did not run the red light. He told police he had a green light, according to a police report of the accident. The sister said that the media and authorities automatically sympathized with Brady.

“Nobody talks about Tom Brady because he’s a rich guy, and we’re poor,’’ she said. “My brother is in very bad condition. We are upset. Leave the family alone because we are in pain.’’

According to the police report, Brady tried to swerve once he noticed the minivan entering the intersection, but could not react quickly enough. His car struck the minivan’s side, sending it into the air.

With both men claiming they had the green light, police cited Rodrigues based on the account of 74-year-old Ann Geupel, who lives nearby and was walking her two dogs when the accident occurred.

Geupel said she was crossing Commonwealth Avenue when she saw the minivan plowing down the road with no indication it would stop. She said she knew the car had a red light because the pedestrian light was flashing allowing her to cross.

Geupel narrowly missed injury. “Her dogs pulled back on their leashes in hesitation and at that moment the vehicles collided in the intersection,’’ according to the police report.

Geupel fell back onto the ground, and the Audi was close to hitting her. She was tended to by emergency medical technicians at the scene, and later saw a doctor as a precaution, but she was not injured.

After being besieged by media Thursday, Geupel was out of town yesterday. She said in a phone interview that she was doing OK. “A little sore, but they said that was going to happen,’’ she said.

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