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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – A family in Irving family must find a new place to live after a violent single car crash left the family patriarch paralyzed. The apartment Contreras family lives in now, is on the third floor. The complex does not have an elevator.
“A lot of the apartments are not wheelchair accessible,” explains Jennifer Contreras. “We’ve been looking for a house. At the end of the month we have nowhere to go.”
It is just one of the many challenges they are facing after the March 10 crash in Abilene that would forever change their lives.
The couple was traveling with their four children. Everyone onboard was wearing their seat belts. Jennifer says she tried to exit the highway to get to a gas station, when the weather took a turn for the worse. It was raining so hard, she says visibility was very low and she had trouble seeing.
The crash happened when Jennifer lost control of the vehicle while swerving to try to avoid a hill.
“I do remember being upside down,” says Corporal Mike Contreras, from his hospital bed at the Dallas VA Medical Center. “I was worried about my kids and my wife.”
The car flipped several times. Mr. Contreras did what any good parent would do. “When I finally unbuckled myself, I was trying to get my son. I couldn’t feel my legs.”
Mike was pinned in the vehicle. His wife says his airbag never deployed. The veteran, who survived two tours in Iraq, was rushed into the intensive care unit. He was able to regain mobility in his arms.
Jennifer explains that, “Right now from the chest area down, he’s paralyzed. [Doctors] don’t know if he’s going to walk for sure.”
The veteran had recently relocated with his family to Texas from California after finding a job he loved.
“I felt like I was on top of the world,” Mike explains. Now the former Marine says he can only think about the stress this is putting on his family. Not only is their family car totaled, but when they get another one it will need to be wheelchair accessible.
Aside from the financial stress, Mike says adjusting to their new normal has been emotionally challenging. “It’s hard on the kids,” says Jennifer. “It’s hard on me not to have him here. Knowing that their dad will have to be in a wheelchair.”
The veteran is determined to walk again. Mike says he can’t wait to return to his job and his home, wherever that may be. “I’m having faith in myself. I’m praying to God that I’ll get feeling in my legs.”
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