Whitehouse teen takes first steps after car wreck - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Whitehouse teen takes first steps after car wreck

Jacob Smith and Holly Mann the day the car wreck. (Source: Smith Family) Jacob Smith and Holly Mann the day the car wreck. (Source: Smith Family)
After more than two months of constant therapy an East Texas student injured by a wrong way driver is finally walking. Whitehouse students Jacob Smith and Jennifer Aragon, and teacher Holly Mann, were hospitalized in Houston during a leadership trip after the car they were in was hit head on by a suspected drunk driver. The driver of the truck that hit them died a few days later. Aragon was sent home shortly after the wreck and Holly Mann returned to a Tyler rehabilitation center last month.

Jacob Smith and his parent's explained why talking to KLTV was a big feat all its own.

The conversation was two months in the making.

“I want to get back to speaking on stage in front of people,” Jacob Smith said.

Speaking is just one of the skills he had to re-learn after the wreck, but he said, it’s the most important.

“Just remembering the things that I was able to do before the accident, you know. I remember the day when I was on the trip, you know, on the stage doing all these different things, competing, and just the fact that I couldn’t do that at that moment, that was the biggest thought that I had,” he remembered.

Jacob was a musician, the class president, and member of the debate team. One picture shows him and his teacher, Holly Mann, the day before the wreck.

“A fellow student who had been on the trip with him who was not injured called and let us know that there had been an accident and she told us that she thought Jacob was hurt pretty bad,” Brooke Smith, Jacob’s mother, said.

Jacob’s parents drove to Houston that night, all the while having no idea what condition their son was in.

“My heart just dropped and there was nothing I could do, you know, you’re away from home and it’s just an unbearable feeling that you have. Like I said, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

The impact had fractured Jacob’s back. He had several broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.

He’d require several surgeries and be wheelchair bound for weeks.

But, he’s still smiling, despite the three metal plates in his face.

“You know, later on after I recovered and started realizing where I actually was and what had actually happened, I was just grateful to be alive, you know, that was the first thing that came to mind,” he said. “To this day I never had any mad feelings against her, which is really good, I guess. I haven’t been angry at her. I’ve just been kind of surprised that this has happened to me,” he explained talking about the driver of the truck that hit him who officials said was likely drunk behind the wheel. His mother told us she admits initially she felt anger.

“I would say I was very angry, you know, he had had such a wonderful trip and I had talked to him probably 9 o’clock that night. That was my last time talking to him and he was just telling me how great the trip was and the things he had accomplished and then to know that a drunk driver hit him I was angry. I would say I was angry at that moment,” she said.

But anger, turned to prayer, for the woman’s family.

“As Christians we do have to forgive, but I would say that we’re human so as time has passed and we’ve focused our attentions on Jacob’s healing process. Physical healing, but in order to be completely healed, you know, with everything, you have to forgive, because if not it’ll just overtake you,” she said.

And he is healing. A home video showed Jacob taking his first steps.

“There’s a lot of times that I do get frustrated, but there’s always my family support, God, you just have to think about the positive things,” he said with a smile on his face.

Support from the community has helped, too. A bracelet drive in his name and several other fundraisers have helped the family pay for his care. But, it’s Jacob who wants to give back.

“I think through this accident I can inspire more people, you know, inspire people my age to you know, never give up and keep on doing their best,” he said.

It’s something to talk about and remember, that was most important.

Jacob attends rehab every day, all day long, just like going to school. He plans to be back at school for his senior year in a few months. He said he talks to his teacher, Holly Mann, everyday and told us she is also doing well in her rehab and even took her first steps recently, too.

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