CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge has approved an $18.5 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by the family of a young woman who was severely injured while working as an extra on the movie Transformers 3
Chicago had a huge role in the film, which made $1 billion, but also nearly killed aspiring actress Gabriela Cedillo, during a scene being filmed with stunt vehicles on Sept. 1, 2010.
While filming an action sequence on Cline Avenue in Hammond, Cedillo was working as an extra in one of the cars in the scene, when a cable pulling another vehicle snapped, and smashed through the windshield the car Cedillo was driving.
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Her older brother, Rudy Romo, said – at times – he feels like he lost his sister that day, but “every once in a while, she’ll come back.”
When the tow cable snapped and hit Cedillo’s car, it smashed into her head. Driving at 50 mph, Cedillo’s injuries were anything but minimal.
“Day in, day out, 24-hour care. It’s been very hard,” Romo said.
“She lost about a third of the top of her head. A large part of the right side of her brain was lost, just gone,” said attorney Todd Smith.
Smith said filmmaker Michael Bay and other producers all promised to support Cedillo at the time, but Smith claimed it didn’t take long for the movie makers to go back on their word, forcing Cedillo onto public aid.
“I think the whole operation cared more about their bottom line,” than the Cedillo’s welfare, Smith said.
The $18.5 million settlement will be used to pay for the round-the-clock care Cedillo will need for the rest of her life.
“She will be taken care of,” Smith said.
Smith said the accident during filming didn’t have to happen. He said the stunt failed the day before, and was tried again the next day using a hook-up, which he claims was shoddily welded the night before.
“The lesson to be learned? Maybe we overrate the value of these kinds of movies,” said Smith.
For Cedillo’s family, the money from the settlement will help, but it’s clear nothing can bring back the young woman who existed up until that cable snapped and hit her in the head.
“We are pleased that the Cedillo family has agreed to move forward with the settlement,” said a spokesman for Paramount. “This was tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers remain with Gabriela.”
As for Cedillo, much of her head had to be reconstructed, and she lost sight in one of her eyes.
Despite it all, her family said they feel blessed, because she’s still alive.