National News

Juan Strong – Williamsburg teen returns to school after crash that almost killed him

Posted September 5

— Juan Spence was a strong and confident track athlete until a car crash on a rainy day May 22, right outside Warhill High School. James City County Police said speed and weather were factors in the crash.

"The car was on top of him. They were rushing him to MCV. They didn't know if he was going to make it and it was very scary. Very scary," said Elizabeth Butler, his Juan's Mom.

She said doctors in Richmond said Juan had a traumatic brain injury with a five percent chance of surviving.

"That was all I held onto. Even if they gave me one percent I was going to hold onto that one percent for dear life because that's my child. And I know there's lots more in store for him and I knew that wasn't it," said Butler.

Juan had pressure and swelling in his brain so bad, a piece of his skull had to be removed.

"I almost died multiple times from the seizures. The hardest part of my recovery was being patient because I wanted everything again. So having to wait. Some days I cried because I really didn't want to be in that place," said Juan.

His Mom said initially, he had to relearn how to do everything including sitting to standing, to walking, using the restroom and doing hygiene things on his own.

"It's a lot of work but knowing things were going to get better prompted us to do whatever it takes," said Butler.

More than three months after the crash that almost killed him, Juan is strong again.

"Tomorrow is the first day of school and I'm thrilled," said Juan.

He'll be taking one class this semester and two in the spring. Then, he's set to graduate, most likely with high honors. He already has some ideas for college, including Columbia, University of Virginia and Stanford.

However, he will take it one day at a time, especially as he dons a sharp black suit and bow tie for his first day back to school.

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