• UNF track star making strides in recovery after being hit by truck

    By: Michael Yoshida, Action News Jax


    A University of North Florida track star is back in school a month after getting hit and dragged by a truck.

    Manny Velasquez posted pictures and a thank-you message to everyone who helped him.

    He was hit in North Carolina while leaving a track meet.

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    For three years, Velasquez's life revolved around the track. Now since his accident, he has a new goal he's moving towards.

    Velasquez has been running all his life, but one month ago that all changed.

    “I remember my head being under the wheel at one point,” said Velasquez, a junior at UNF.

    Velasquez had just finished a race and was on a cool down run. That's when he was hit and dragged by a tractor-trailer.

    “It felt like a giant bar hit my back … next thing you know I was under this truck and my legs got crushed by the two wheels of the tractor-trailer,” Velasquez said.

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    Velasquez had a fractured pelvis and collarbone and lower back injury. His spleen was torn and right knee was destroyed.

    “It was scary … it was really scary at first. But I had a lot of friends there and family and got through that night,” Velasquez said.

    Velasquez spent two weeks in a North Carolina hospital and then had eight days in rehab in Jacksonville learning a new way to get around. He's now returned to UNF but there are still struggles.

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    "Like yesterday when I was watching my teammates work out … it kind of hurt. It's not easy looking at them run just cause I don't know if I'll ever be able to run in college again," Velasquez said.

    A tough reality for a guy so used to competing.

    “You have to take it day by day. Looking at it as I got run over by a truck and I'm lucky to be alive,” Velasquez said.

    Velasquez still has several surgeries ahead of him but he said that being back on campus among his friends and teammates is helping him to keep pushing forward.


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