JOSHUA (CBSDFW.COM) – Sixteen-year-old Jaci Mitchell doesn’t remember the moment her life changed. She caught a ride home with a friend from a basketball game June 6.
Family members tell her there was an accident. “Jaci was ejected out of the back windshield of the pick-up,” said Brad Mitchell, her father.
The truck rolled several times, throwing Jaci about 25 yards. Today, she is paralyzed from the chest down, but alive.
“She’s very determined to get better, and she’ll do it. She sets her mind to something, and she’ll do it,” said Mitchell.
A varsity softball player for Joshua High School, Mitchell has her youth, physical fitness, and a positive attitude on her side. “I’ve seen close to miracles happen,” said Dr. Anthony Lee, her neurosurgeon at Texas Health Harris Hospital Fort Worth. While the chances are slim, he believes Jaci could beat the odds and maybe one day walk again.
Back in her hometown of Joshua, there are signs encouraging the community to pray for Jaci. Friends and classmates have organized fundraisers to help cover the cost of her recovery.
“The whole community is coming together. We’ve had more people than we thought help,” said 18 year old Shelby Stowe.
Visitors have also turning out at the hospital in large numbers, but no one as often as Tanner Matthews. “I leave at midnight late at night, go home to sleep, and get back here in the morning,” said Matthews.
He was Jaci’s prom date, her childhood friend, and the driver that night of the crash. “It just happened. Just happened like that in a matter of seconds,” he said. He’s now determined to be at her side throughout the long recovery.
For Jaci’s family, all that support has left them unbelievably grateful. “I bawl like a baby. It’s just amazing,” said Mitchell.
The family has set up an account under Jaci’s name at Wells Fargo to assist in her recovery, and friends have set up a website they are calling Jerseys for Jaci. They are also planning a softball tournament and family fun day in her name Saturday from 10-6 at Joshua High School.