UTD student hurt in hit-and-run wants to meet 18-wheeler driver

Both college students who were seriously hurt in a hit-and-run crash involving an 18-wheeler in January are now out of the hospital. Police are still searching for the driver who hit them.

UT Dallas student Cassandra Lizardi was released Friday afternoon from Parkland. She and her roommate, Kaylee Jensen, were driving along I-35 at the Dallas North Tollway when they were hit by an 18-wheeler.

Lizardi says the hit-and-run crash has changed her life. Having to sit out this semester to heal has slowed her down, but the experience has only accelerated her desire to help others and make a difference.

“I’m glad I woke up with all my limbs,” she said.

The 21-year-old’s bubbly spirit and outlook on life is remarkable, especially when you consider a little more than three weeks ago that she was almost killed in a crash.

Investigators say Lizardi’s Honda went under the tractor-trailer, spun around and hit another vehicle, bounced off a retaining wall and then hit a third vehicle as the truck driver just kept going northbound on I-35.

Jensen suffered a brain hemorrhage, a broken vertebrae and broken ribs.

Lizardi’s hips and collarbone were broken. She does not remember anything about to crash, but now knows the driver never stopped.

“I can’t imagine how guilty the driver must feel because I, myself, feel guilty that Kaylee was ever even in that situation,” she said. “That’s a burden I carry.”

Lizardi says she wants to meet the hit-and-run trucker.

“It’s just human to want to see the person who you almost killed! And the person who almost killed you, you know? So, It’s just crazy,” she said. “And I just want them to know that we’re ok, you know? And I don’t know that they didn’t ruin our lives. It’s just sad. It’s sad for them, I guess.”

Lizardi says the near-fatal crash changed her. She no longer fears death.

“Now, I feel like I’m not scared,” she said. “Like I’ve been freed of that fear.”

It’s the freedom Lizardi says empowers her to continue pursuing her Ph.D. so she can teach and mentor underprivileged children.

“I always felt that the least I could do with my life is give back,” she said. “Like if there was no other point to life, that I could change somebody else’s life. So I’m glad I still have this opportunity.”

Because of her injuries, Lizardi won’t be able to walk for at least another two months as she continues her outpatient therapy.  The only thing that really bothers her is that she’ll have to get another car. She says she worked all summer long at IHOP to pay for that one.

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