ORANGE PARK, Fla. — A local 20-year-old is proving doctors wrong. Gabriella Manges was seriously hurt in a car crash in June. Right now, the Florida Department of Transportation is making safety changes to that ramp and four others.
"Wow, I'm so lucky to be alive," Manges said.
Manges said she is not only amazed that she survived but how quickly she recovered.
"They said I wouldn't be able to walk for a year, and I wouldn't be cognitively where I am for six more months," she said.
While Manges said she doesn't remember June 13, a rainy morning, she said witnesses told her she hit a puddle on the on-ramp at Highway 17 and Interstate 295. She hydroplaned, her car went airborne into oncoming traffic, and she was hit by a dump truck.
"My world got flipped upside down. It literally wiped out my memory," Manges said.
The Florida Department of Transportation said it is making safety changes to that ramp and four others.
These are ramps that have seen a number of crashes over the years. FDOT will be installing high-friction pavement surface, which is supposed to reduce the number of crashes. It's costing around $92,000 per ramp. FDOT said the price will be worth it because the surface has reduced crashes on ramps in Florida by 32%, and wet-weather crashes by 75%.
Manges said she is not sure it will be enough, but she is forever grateful to be here.
"I'm so thankful God put his hands around me and protected me," said Manges.
She continues to recover and go to physical therapy and has plans to go back to college in the spring.
FDOT said it has plans to work on more ramps in the future.
The ramp at Highway 17 and 295 should be done by the end of this year, according to FDOT.
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