A Marine veteran who earned the Navy Cross for actions in Iraq but later refused it, filed a complaint with the federal government alleging treatment by a ranger at a national park in California could result in the loss of his leg, which was damaged when he stepped on an IED.
Dominic Esquibel, who served with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, was awarded the nation’s second highest valor award for braving enemy machine gunfire three times to save two fellow Marines during Operation Phantom Fury. Esquibel declined the Navy Cross.
Seven years later, he stepped on an explosive device in Afghanistan, which tore off part of his ankle and heel, KFSN reported. He now uses an exoskeleton-type brace to walk, which he was wearing during a 2012 visit to Kings Canyon National Park in California, his attorney told KFSN.
Despite the brace, the park ranger allegedly didn’t believe the Marine was handicapped, according to the report. After he pulled into a handicapped parking spot and displayed his handicapped marker, he was questioned by a ranger.
According to a complaint Esquibel filed with the federal government, a park ranger handcuffed him and kicked his injured leg, KFSN reported. He was held in nearby Fresno, and charges against him were later dropped.
His leg hasn’t been the same since though, Butch Wagner, who represents Esquibel in his claim against the government, told KFSN.
“When the ranger kicked him, it aggravated his condition, his vascular condition and he’s been having more trouble with that leg than he normally does,” Wagner said. “He is not someone seeking attention, not by any means a whiner as you can see from his military record.”
A park spokesman told KFSN they are investigating the claim and declined to comment.
Doctors are now working to save Esquibel’s leg, the station reported. The Marine plans to file a lawsuit if the $750,000 claim is denied.