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Valley teen seriously injured in 2017 wreck walks at high school graduation

Posted at 4:31 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 19:54:41-04

PHOENIX — Smiling is easy when you know the story behind the journey.

For Trevor Browne graduate Gabriel Lopez, this achievement and this day is a miracle in the eyes of those who love him.

"Begging, begging God to work his magic," said Reannon Lozano, Gabe's mother.

"The prognosis they were giving us, there was no hope what so ever," said Lynn Cummins, Gabe's Great Aunt.

Lopez was one of three teens injured in a devastating car wreck on their way to school in 2017. Lopez's outlook was the worst of the bunch. Suffering from a brain injury, he couldn't walk, talk, and according to doctors, wouldn't recover.

"I can remember laying in bed thinking to myself I'm not going to be able to do anything for the rest of my life, never going to be able to graduate high school, never going to be able to go to college, never going to be able to get a job," said Lopez on Thursday.

But prayer would be the families salvation, and a miracle was underway. Little by little, Lopez came around by first communicating, then taking his first steps.

"When I started walking, especially with a walker, that was something small, but that was still a big accomplishment for me, and that lifted my confidence level," said Lopez.

"Every little thing that he did we knew we were closer, we were getting our Gabe back," said Lozano.

Hours of therapy and determination lead up to him, strutting his stuff across the stage at high school graduation on Thursday. The man who pulled him from the wreckage the day of the crash, an Army Veteran named Joan Salgueiro, relished every second.

"I was overwhelmed with happiness cause he pulled through," said Salguerio, who used a pocket knife to break a window and pull Lopez from the car. Salguerio just returned from deployment in Iraq and made sure to be front and center for the big day.

One that ended with a diploma in hand now has this former dancers family dreaming of what's next.

"He danced before and was great at it, it was his thing, and I think we'll get there, he'll dance again," said Lozano.

Lopez still has a long recovery ahead. He suffered from short term memory issues but said he'll do whatever it takes to achieve his dreams. In fact, he plans to enroll in college next spring.