DALLAS - Two months ago, she suffered a traumatic brain injury and cuts to her body so extensive that skin on her back is missing. This weekend, she finally gets to go home.
Back in March, Ann Marie Palao was struck by a woman after a fender bender. She held onto the hood for nearly a mile before falling off.
Palao has been through surgeries and rehab. She finally spoke on Wednesday with FOX 4 about what happened.
Doctors were not sure she was going to survive. Yet, she's made a near full recovery. She says the number one thing she's learned is to appreciate life.
“I mean, it's life. I guess bad stuff happens every day to everybody,” Palao said. “It just so happened to happen to me, and I can't change it.”
Her chances to live were slim. 19-year-old Ann Marie Palao and her boyfriend got in a fender-bender near Camp Wisdom and Clark roads on March 30.
While exchanging information, the woman driving the SUV that hit them got back in her car, hit the gas and struck Palao. Her boyfriend says he watched her get thrown onto the hood and hold onto it for nearly a mile before falling off.
“Being close to death doesn't feel fun,” she said.
Palao suffered lacerations all over her body and a severe traumatic brain injury. Surgeons removed a portion of her skull to reduce brain swelling.
Her mother, Claudia Luna, says in those early days, she had one recurring question.
“Why her?” Lunda wondered. “And during the times that she asked me that, that was very, very devastating to me because I didn't know what to answer.”
But Palao started to recover. She's now at Baylor Scott and White Institute for Rehabilitation.
“I just accept it,” she said. “I look at myself in the mirror. Before, I couldn't accept it. Now I'm like, I think I can do this.”
Palao says she must have been doing really well in life because someone did not want her to live any longer.
“I feel like it's a lesson from my God,” she said. “Don't take life for granted because anyone can take it away before you know it.”
Palao is recovering without the peace of mind of knowing who put her in the hospital. She finally gets to go home Saturday.
“It's difficult not to know who this person is. But I know that maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even a month from now, but I do believe eventually she will be caught,” Luna said. “And my baby girl will get justice for her.”
Dallas police don't have video surveillance or witnesses who remember any identifying information like a license plate.
Palao was taking pictures of the damage before she was hit, but her phone was knocked away, and never recovered.