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Student Paralyzed in School Bus Accident Walks Stage in Graduation


A Belton, Texas teenager who was left paralyzed from the waist down following a 2012 school bus accident demonstrated astounding resilience last week when she walked the stage during her high school’s graduation ceremony.

Stage Walk Marks Another Capstone in Teenager’s Miraculous Recover

Haley Johannsen suffered broken back in 2012 when a Lowe’s delivery truck ran through a stop sign and slammed into a Little River-Academy ISD school bus. Johannsen, 14 at the time, was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Upon being informed of the severity of her injuries, Johannsen was left with the realization that her life would never be the same; however, Johannsen and her family were determined to remain positive.

Last year, Johannsen made headlines when it was reported that she was back to riding horses, one of her key recovery goals. This year, she continued her path to recovery by walking in her graduation.

“I’ve been going back and forth on whether on whether or not I’m going to walk or I’m going to roll across the stage, but then I finally made up my decision,” Johannsen told reporters.

Johannsen added that the decision to walk across the graduation stage was a surprise for much of her family.

“I appreciate them and I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said.

Johannsen’s walk across the stage is the result of years of intensive physical therapy and serves as a testament to the high school graduate’s courage and resolve.

Post-graduation, Johannsen plans to continue to ride and train horses, and she is currently training her puppy, Dixie, to be a service dog.

School Transportation Accident Statistics

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 1,344 people killed in school-transportation-related crashes recorded between 2004 and 2013. This averages to 134 fatalities per year.
  • Of the 1,344 fatalities, only 8 percent were occupants of school transportation vehicles.
  • Most (71%) of the people who lost their lives in these crashes were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crashes.
  • Nonoccupants, including pedestrians, bicyclists, etc., accounted for 21 percent of the fatalities.

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