MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A repeat DUI offender is out of prison and his most recent victim worries it’s only a matter of time before he crashes into someone else.
“I have nightmares. I have terrible panic attacks,” said Shelby Smith.
On September 13th 2016, Smith was hit by Steven Walls’ pick-up truck. Walls had a blood alcohol content nearly twice the legal limit. At the time of the accident he was driving the wrong direction on 385 near Brunswick.
Smith's face was crushed by his truck’s tire. Three years later she still has medical issues.
“I have problems with my face, gets really swollen," said Smith. “It just hurts really bad when the weather changes.”
She also says she has a rod in her arm that is never going to come out.
Smith says she finds it ironic that she'll spend the rest of her life dealing with injuries from this accident, but the man who was at fault is already a free man.
Walls plead guilty to vehicular assault and DUI last June. He was released from prison last month. He qualified for release after serving 30% of his sentence.
He was released with no conditions such as a mandatory DUI class or ignition interlock device. Smith fears he’ll strike again.
“It may not be me again, but I survived, but the next person might not,” said Smith. This crash was Walls third DUI indictment and second conviction.
Smith wants to fight for stricter DUI penalties and help other victims.
We spoke to Phaedra Creed, the Tennessee Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and asked what is the best course of action for other victims of DUI.
"So the best thing you can do is to reach out to MADD allow us to be there, said Creed. “Allow us to provide that peer to peer support that will help you through the criminal justice system.”
Creed suggest victims join a support group and immediately contact a civil attorney as soon possible. Attorneys can help with restitution and dealing with insurance claims.
In the state of Tennessee, the statute of limitations to file lawsuit in a personal injury case is just one year after the accident. Smith missed that deadline. She can’t sue Walls to help pay future medical bills.
Walls was also ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution to Smith but Smith says she has not seen that money either.
Despite all her struggles, Smith has a message for the man that hit her.
“I’d say I forgive you. Honestly, I really do because addiction is a disease," said Smith. "It’s an illness and it’s something that needs to be treated, but you almost ruined my life. You almost cost me life.”
WMC Action News 5 attempted to reach out to Walls for comment, but we never got a response.