SPRING, Texas – Former Dekaney High School football coach Willie Amendola and his wife have filed a lawsuit in Dallas County against Cowboys Stadium.
Amendola, now the assistant athletic director for Spring ISD, was hit by a runaway electric stadium cart after Dekaney claimed the state championship in December of 2011.
"Coach Amendola tried to do everything short of a lawsuit," said Amendola’s attorney Stephen Estes. "He was really hoping against all odds that the injury that he suffered back in December would heal itself."
Estes told KHOU 11 Sports that Amendola is in need of surgery to correct the injuries that he sustained during the incident.
Hours after the accident, video of the incident went viral, allowing millions of people around the world to look at it. The lawsuit claims the aftermath of the video going viral caused "Coach Amendola and his wife, great personal embarrassment and mental anguish."
The unmanned cart toppled Spring Dekaney coach Willie Amendola, who was being interviewed near the Cowboys midfield star logo with several other people clustered near him moments after the game.
"I didn’t know what was going on, but I felt it," said a stunned Amendola.
Broadcast footage showed Amendola falling backwards into the cart's passenger seat as it continued rolling. He appeared to try in vain to gain control of the cart, spinning the steering wheel with his left hand, before rolling out onto the artificial turf. As he tumbled out, a pursuing field worker hopped aboard and stopped the cart quickly.
"There was no driver, said Amendola. "I ended up being the driver but I couldn’t reach the pedals and we were headed towards the goal post. I steered it out of the way of the guy on the ground and then I jumped out"
After the cart hit the coach, it slammed into a group of reporters standing around him. King Arthur Prayther, who runs a small Houston-area newspaper, was standing next to the winning coach. The cart slammed into Prayther’s left leg.
"It happened so fast, it was like you batting your eyes," Prayther said. He wasn’t badly hurt, but he said one of his colleagues, Jerry Woodley, suffered "massive bruising" on his leg, and was taken to nearby Arlington Memorial Hospital as a precaution.
Seven people were hurt in all.
"I’m just disappointed because I can’t believe it went 52 yards before it hit us, and nobody bothered to, at least, holler to get out of the way," Prayter said.
Stadium workers were picking up fluorescent orange sideline yard markers and pylons in one of the end zones after the game when the cart unexpectedly took off. It appeared one of the pylons might have fallen onto the cart's gas padel.
After Amendola rolled out of the car, a stadium worker jumped on board and stopped it.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday.