Seconds before the floor collapsed beneath him, Grayson West remembers everyone dancing and jumping. Then, two loud cracking noises — and he dropped into the basement.
The 19-year-old felt something heavy on his foot and removed it to find his left ankle was mangled into the shape of a question mark.
“My vision blurred and my head started swirling. I got all lightheaded,” West said. “My ears had this ringing sound and I sat down because I thought I was going to pass out.”
West’s left foot was broken in multiple places after the first floor of a home in the 20900 block of East Princeton Place in Arapahoe County collapsed into the basement Feb. 26 during a party with 100 to 150 juveniles in attendance. He was one of three teens injured.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office investigated the floor collapse and referred its case to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which declined to file criminal charges against the homeowner or anyone else connected to the incident.
But West and his attorney, Kurt Zaner of Zaner Harden Law, say they’ve had trouble getting the homeowner’s insurer, Farmers Insurance Group, to cover the 19-year-old’s steep medical bills.
Zaner said legal action may be necessary, claiming Farmers is “stalling” its investigation of the incident. Because the homeowner allowed a party with enough people to cause the collapse of the floor, their insurance should “do the right thing” and cover West’s medical bills, Zaner said.
Farmers Insurance said it is still investigating the February incident.
“We continue to work with known claimants to resolve their claims under our customer’s homeowners policy,” the company wrote in an email to The Denver Post.
Following the floor collapse, West was taken home by a friend before heading to a hospital. He underwent emergency surgery on his left leg, with doctors using screws and fixators to stabilize his ankle and foot.
“It was broken and fractured in about three different places and the doctors were concerned that they could save it,” Zaner said. “There were lots of bones mashed up and it looked like a blender in there, according to doctors.”
West’s “tibia slid off his foot,” while his talus bone and subtler joint were completely dislocated and fractured, according to his aunt, Dee Drake.
West, who has health insurance with Kaiser Permanente, had the fixators on for about five weeks before undergoing another surgery on the foot. West said Kaiser was planning to perform a surgery that had a 50% chance of West’s left foot not recovering and instead requiring amputation.
“It was terrifying. The first Kaiser doctor mentioned amputation. You know, I’m 19. I’ve got my whole life ahead of me, so it was terrifying to hear that,” West said.
After seeking a second opinion, the West family decided to have a different surgery that promised a higher chance of recovery done out-of-network at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.
Following the additional surgery on April 1, the West family juggled the teen’s physical recovery with the financial recovery from hefty medical bills because the operation was out-of-network. The second surgery already has cost the family more than $25,000 — with more bills expected. To pay, they’re raising money through family, friends and a GoFundMe campaign.
West had been planning on going to a hiring event at Topgolf the day after he was injured in the floor collapse. He’d hoped to get a job before enrolling in community college in the fall, planning to transfer to Colorado Mesa University after two years.
But the recovery has left West’s plans in limbo. He said he’s focusing on taking it “hour by hour” rather than day by day.
“It’s been a process of testing my patience,” West said. “There’s been a lot of waiting and this has just pushed back a lot of stuff.”
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