Aaron Walker was celebrating one last hurrah with his friends in February before enlisting in the Army. But a crash that night would show the 18-year-old that he didn’t need to join the Army to save lives.
“I see him as a hero,” said his friend, Simone Ross.
But Walker’s heroism cost him both legs and his plans to start basic training this spring.
Such trauma might have sent others into deep depression. Yet that didn’t take hold of Walker, a North Garland High School graduate who lives with his father in Garland.
He has maintained a positive spirit and has comforted others who have been injured.
“He wasn’t mad or anything,” said Cory Russell, who broke a leg that night. “A lot of people would probably be down in the pits, but he wasn’t.”
Walker doesn’t think of himself as handicapped. “Only disabled for the moment,” he said. “I know I’m going to be back to the same.”
He sees a future where he will attend college in Texas, have a career in the Army, play sports and motivate others.
On the evening of Feb. 6, Walker and his friends headed to a Dallas nightclub to celebrate before he enlisted in the Army. On their way, the Chevy they were in broke down on Interstate 30.
Walker, Ross and Russell were pushing the car off the Motley Drive exit to a gas station when headlights approached fast from behind. Walker pushed Ross away.
One car swerved to avoid the teens. A Honda behind it braked hard and was hit from behind by a third vehicle. The Honda was launched into the Chevy and both Walker and Russell were hit.
Russell was thrown from the Chevy and broke his leg. Walker flew forward and the Honda rolled over him, trapping his legs. Walker dragged himself from under the tires and off to the side of the road.
“It didn’t dawn on me that I got hit,” Walker said. “It was like going through slow motion.”
According to Mesquite police, the three friends were blocking the taillights of the car when they were pushing it, making it difficult for other motorists to see them.
Walker doesn’t remember much about what followed. He was taken to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and his both his legs were amputated.
Though there is no basic training for Walker this spring, he’s experiencing a different kind of regimen.
Instead of running miles and climbing walls, his workouts consist of getting out of bed to change his bandages once every two days and using weights and bands to strengthen his core and upper body.
Walker had his last surgery on April 3 and expects to get his prosthetics at the end of May.
He said he can’t wait to try wheelchair basketball and rugby. “I’m glad I still got my arms. It could have been worse.”
He is also building up his emotional and mental strength and is eager to return to Baylor to provide inspiration to fellow amputees and others who are ill.
“Being negative doesn’t help anything,” Walker said. “If you don’t think you’re going to get better, you’re not going to get better.”
As soon as he could use a wheelchair, Walker began visiting Russell in his hospital room.
“Just watching him gave me support,” Russell said. “If he could go through with that, I could go through with my injury, too.”