//GABE BARNARD & AUSTIN SACK//
Imagine hopping into your car late at night after attending a Valor football game, plugging in your aux cord and turning up the volume. You begin to turn. You’re just trying to go home, but all of a sudden everything goes black and you wake up in the hospital the next day, surrounded by your family. You have broken ribs, a broken sternum, bruised lower lungs and severe head trauma.
For senior Sam Strauss, this nightmare became reality. Strauss was struck by a drunk driver on the night of September 23, one week before Homecoming. He woke up in a hospital with his injuries and a big recovery ahead of him.
Many think that getting in a serious accident will never happen to them, but according to the National Highway Traffic Administration, “every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.” Those two minutes changed Strauss’s perspective of the life he used to know – forever.
“Life is too short. You’ve got to make the most of it before something crazy or bad happens to you,” Strauss said. “You have no idea what will happen at any moment.”
There are a lot of factors that can change someone’s life. Strauss is only 17-years-old and has already experienced a life-altering event before a majority of his peers. Some people could live life without ever experiencing a sudden change like he has.
“My life has changed a lot especially with the fact that I need to sleep a lot, I can’t drive, and found that a lot of people care for me that I didn’t know about,” Strauss said.
Doctors predicted Strauss’s recovery would fall between nine and 18 months with severe head trauma. Two months later, Strauss is out of the hospital and back at school. The biggest factor in his speedy recovery was the support he received from the school, his family and friends. One of his closest friends, senior Thomas Johnson, designed and sold wristbands during Homecoming week with the words “Sam Strong” on them to raise money for his medical costs.
“When I found out that Sam was hurt I thought I was going to lose one of my closest friends and I was really worried and very emotional,” Johnson said. “What inspired me to help out so much was I knew the medical bills were going to be high and [I wanted Sam’s family to know] that our community has their back.”
Students from school also created and signed a get-well poster for Strauss, donated money during miracle minutes and took to social media to show support for the Strauss family.
“Without the support I wouldn’t have recovered as fast as I did,” Strauss said. “Then finding out my close friends were doing all those things during homecoming week for me was just mind blowing, and the amount of support it got was even more crazy. I love Vista.”
When thinking about how Strauss got hit by a drunk driver, many might be disturbed by the severity of the accident. Strauss is more focused on the future and his recovery rather than reminiscing on the past.
“I slowly got back into things for school, so I didn’t get overwhelmed,” Strauss said. “I got the work for 3 of my classes and returned to school on November 14.”
Part of his future is the uncertainty of driving again, but Strauss has no hesitations about getting back behind the wheel after his life took the turn it did.
“I do want to drive again, I’m not scared too. It sounds a bit crazy, but I like driving and I feel more comfortable to since the accident wasn’t my fault,” Strauss said, “car accidents happen a lot and you gotta realize that if you aren’t responsible with [drinking] and then go drive you can put others in serious danger.”
Now that Strauss has recovered from the accident, he has had the chance to reflect on the impact that it had on his life.
“I was happy I was alive, because the accident was super crazy and I heard from many doctors and nurses how lucky I am to not be crippled or dead. I am grateful,” Strauss said.