A local Marine, injured while visiting Mexico, has this word of warning for others planning to travel outside the U.S. NBC 7s Tony Shin reports.
Joe Ward, 45, doesn't remember a single thing about the hit-and-run crash that nearly killed him.
But the Scripps Ranch resident will never forget what it has done to him and his family.
"It's sad.. what can we do?" Ward told NBC 7 San Diego.
Ward, his wife Nancy and their two young children went to Mexico in April to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.
They were staying in a small town about 40 minutes outside Guadalajara.
Nancy crossed a road with Joe following behind as he held his four-year-old daughter in his arms.
Suddenly a speeding car approached them and Joe Ward only had enough time to throw his daughter to safety.
The Marine veteran was run over and the driver never stopped.
"By the time I got to him, he was having convulsions,"said Nancy Robledo-Ward. "I had never seen anything like that, I could see part of his brain."
Ward suffered a brain hemorrhage which led to a stroke. The wheels of the car chewed up his legs, causing serious injuries to his knees.
He was taken by ambulance to a nearby urgent care.
"Me, always being prepared, had all my insurance cards," Robledo-Ward said.
But all of that American health insurance was worthless in Mexico.
The hospital bill quickly rose to more than $18,000, wiping out Joe and Nancy's savings account.
They also had to borrow thousands from friends and family.
Ward would need $35,000 more for an air ambulance back to San Diego where he would get better treatment.
Thankfully friends in their Scripps Ranch neighborhood started a Facebook page and raised the money for the plane.
But Joe, who ran a tile company, can no longer work and Nancy spends most of her time caring for him and their two young children.
They are now losing their home and have this warning for travelers.
"It's smart to get travel insurance whereever you're going,"Joe advised.