The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Student survives crash, regains life

By karen gavis/se news editor

It will soon be three years since the SE Campus philosophy student could walk unassisted, but he tries.

On Jan. 11, 2009, 24-year-old Matt Lundy became not just another DWI victim, but a survivor. For two months, he lay in a coma. His friend, Josh Carter, whom he was giving a ride home, was killed in the crash at Green Oaks and Cooper in Arlington.

“The doctors were asking my mom at times if she wanted them to pull the plug,” he said. “But she didn’t.”

At the crash scene, he had no blood pressure and should have bled to death in the helicopter, Lundy said.

His head surgeon said all of Lundy’s internal organs were damaged in some way, shape or form. He also had extensive nerve damage and issues concerning traumatic brain injury, which is something he continues to deal with.

“I have slower thought processes than many kids here [on SE],” he said.

All of Lundy’s bones healed themselves without surgery while he was in a coma. His first words when he awoke were “Mom, I want to go home,” he said.

Despite those challenges, Lundy is pursuing a higher education. When he first came to SE, he had no expectations and did not know what career he would choose, he said. Then, one day, he received an email from a girl he had tutored while in rehabilitation.

“I’m back in math honors all because of you,” she said.

Now, Lundy wants to become an educator. However, his main goal is to walk. And he wants to lose 30 pounds so he can have surgery to, among other things, remove scar tissue. Before the crash, Lundy weighed 195 pounds. After he awoke from his coma, he was 126. Now, he weighs in at 253 pounds. 

“[Losing weight] is kind of hard for me to do right now when there is not much activity in my life,” he said.

Lundy said his pain is not physical. At 6 foot 5 inches tall, when he could walk, people looked up to him because of his height. But when he is in his wheelchair, Lundy said people look down on him.

“It kind of tears me up inside,” he said.

Lundy said attending college is hard for him socially.

“The school and everybody here make it easy for disabled people,” he said, “but not for giant disabled people.”

Lundy sometimes stretches his legs out because tables are low, and he said he has noticed that handicapped-accessible desks are at the back of the classroom where there is hardly anyone to talk to.

“So you are sitting there by yourself,” he said. “It is almost like we are lepers.”

SE student Marc Sellers said he and Lundy were classmates and both rebuilding their lives when they became friends. At the time, Sellers was recovering from a stroke brought on from alcoholism.

“It is kind of fate the way we met, I guess,” he said.

There are times Lundy wants to drink, but because of his medical condition, he does not. Before the wreck, Lundy said he had worked in a warehouse loading liquor and wine onto conveyer belts for distribution.

Lundy’s accident was recorded

on a red-light video camera and shown in court. He said when he watches the video of the wreck, it is similar to someone who served in Vietnam.

“I lost a good friend of mine, and life has changed,” he said. “But I just look at it as something I lived through and made it through.”

Lundy said the woman who caused the accident did not look him in the eye when she spoke to him during the trial in March 2010. Therefore, he did not accept her apology. At the time, Lundy could not speak very well, so he presented a slideshow of his life before the crash.

“When you go to sleep at night, remember these,” he told her, “because they will be in your dreams.”

Now, Lundy is a good student who always makes it to class on time, SE government professor Catherine Bottrell said.

“He is very nice, very smart, very tall,” she said. “He has a lot of good insight.”

SE English instructor Heather Cohen said she feels blessed to count Lundy as both student and friend.

“His perseverance, his candor, his sense of humor all reveal a very special person who has been able to turn unimaginable suffering into a gift that he freely gives to others,” she said.

In 2009, Lundy could barely speak three words. Now, he gives speeches on alcohol awareness. The last one he did was at Mansfield High School for about 750 people. Lundy said he has been offered compensation for public speaking, but it is not something he will accept.

“There is no way I will accept any monetary gain for this,” he said. “I want what happened to me to be the last of it.”

During his speech, Lundy shares a film, talks about his hospital stay, rehabilitation and Jan. 7-8, 2008. Those are the only days he can recall that year. They were good times he experienced while camping and drinking with friends in the Arbuckle wilderness in Oklahoma.

“I put all my 21 years of life into those days,” he said. “It is like that is me, and that is why I remember.”

 

 
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