NewsOperation Safe Roads


Mesa hit-and-run victim survivor shares message of hope

Posted at 6:43 PM, Sep 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-15 11:20:38-04

A hit and run accident cost him all of his limbs, but that is not slowing Christopher Garland down.

The former Fry's grocery store employee was walking home after a long shift at work, near 7th street and Baseline Road about two months ago when a driver jumped the curb, ran over him, and fled.

Garland says he has no memory of that day. 

Police reports have identified the driver as Raul Parra. A man now accused of being high on drugs at the time of the crash.

After weeks in the hospital, there was a time when his family thought Garland would not live to see his 44th birthday, but he continues to beat the odds.

Even after losing both of his arms and legs to infection, Garland's spirits remain high as he undergoes rehab at the Montecito Post Acute Care and Rehab facility in Mesa.

"I'm feeling way better than I ever have and I'm going to continue to move on as much as I can. Life is more precious to me now than it ever was before. I took it for granted so much," said Garland.

What has kept him going are his family and former co-workers from the Fry's grocery store where he worked as a janitor for 24 years. Garland said he has even had a few customers come by to visit him in the hospital.

While he has no memory of the crash, his mother Patricia Jackson remembered every moment of that devastating day.

"I feel like my heart was ripped out. I wish I could have traded him places," said Jackson.  

She said the crash had uprooted her whole life as well. She had relocated from her home in Casa Grande to move closer to Mesa so that she could be by her son.

Even though she was his mother, the roles were reversed in this case, as Jackson said she was learning so many life lessons as she watched her son go through this ordeal.

"I'm learning from him not him learning from me," said Jackson.

The driver accused of running over Garland, Raul Parra is now in jail. Police reports indicate he appeared to under the influence as his speech was slurred and he was swaying while talking to officers. Police say he also tried to flee right after the crash but was caught not far away from the crime scene.

Despite knowing the details, Garland said he had no room for bitterness.

"There's no point to hate him. He made a very dumb decision. He used poor judgment but he is also human. There is no hostility. Only forgiveness," said Garland.

He hoped his story sent a strong message to all drivers, letting them know they are responsible for their actions on the road.

"When you're behind the wheel you're not driving for yourself; you're driving for others. When you're behind the wheel you're responsible for everything around you," said Garland.