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United States Marshals returned to Miami Monday with Samuel Silva in handcuffs after he was arrested in Panama. His capture came 16 years after a DUI accident he caused which left then-trooper Marissa Sanders injured on I-95.
The Florida Highway Patrol trooper whose career ended after she was struck by a drunk driver who fled the country for a decade is speaking out for the first time since his capture.
Marissa Sanders said she never gave up hope that Samuel Silva would be brought to justice for the injuries he caused her in the April 1998 crash.
"I always knew justice would be served," Sanders told reporters outside a hearing for Silva Friday in Miami-Dade.
Sanders was conducting a traffic stop when Silva’s car smashed into her cruiser and pushed it into the car she had stopped. Sanders was knocked to the ground and suffered third-degree burns to her legs when her car's gas tank exploded.
Sanders' career with the FHP was over. A few years later, Silva was sentenced to nine years and five months in prison for DUI causing serious injury. At the time of the accident, Silva’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
Silva appealed the verdict and was released on bond in May 2001. Three years later, his appeal was denied and the conviction was upheld. He was ordered to surrender for his sentence on June 29, 2004, but he never showed up.
The U.S. Marshals Service chased Silva down to Panama last week. An investigation discovered that Silva had used the fraudulently obtained passport to travel to Spain, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Guatemala after first heading to Puerto Rico.
He was brought back to South Florida to face justice on Monday.
"I'll be dealing with this for the rest of my life. With anything there are good days and there are bad days, the bad days can really be bad," Sanders said. "But for the most part I'd do it again, I'd do what needs to be done."
Sanders said she was surprised to hear of his arrest last week.
"I would like to see him take responsibility," she said. "That's I think the only thing I haven't seen yet, I haven't seen the contrition, I haven't seen the remorsefulness."
Sanders now does volunteer work and said she's ready to move on.
"A little difficult, knowing what I've know in the news reports. You wish things would go better, you wish for a better outcome and a better attitude from the defendant but what he's given us we just have to deal with and move on," she said. "I've moved on with my life, he needs to move on with his."