Teen paralyzed in crash remains optimistic

An accident on Friday left a North Texas teen paralyzed from the waist down, but he's convinced that against everything doctors have told him, he'll walk again.

It's hard to imagine being told by a doctor you'll never walk again, but 17-year-old football player Aaron McClelen seemed to take that news and scoff at it.

Less than 24 hours after playing in a Friday night football game, the Tolar High senior was rushed to the hospital after the pickup he was driving rolled at least three times on F.M. 56 just outside of Tolar, near Granbury.

His cousin, whom he calls his brother, and his dog, Senna, were also in the truck, but weren't injured.

"I told him, ‘Now I can't feel anything below my chest,’” said McClelen. “And by that time, I was stuck in the truck.”  

The cause of the Saturday afternoon wreck was distracted driving, according to DPS.  

“I looked down just for a split second ‘cause my brother showed me some CD cases,” said McClelen. “All I did was take a little look to the right, turned to the right and by the time I looked up, all of a sudden I was in a ditch and I corrected myself just a little too much and I spun out and flipped a few times.”

McClelen broke his neck and is now paralyzed. Yet in the face of that diagnosis, the offensive tackle is positively defiant, even arguing with his surgeon about the diagnosis.

"Well, he said I wasn't going to walk, but you know, doctors don't know everything,” said McClelen. "…I told him I'm gonna walk right out of here before he knows it."

And not one of his fellow Rattlers is arguing with him.

"It may not be walking like I walk or walking like anything, but yes, he will walk,” said football coach Mike Franklin. “There's not a doubt in my mind that young man will at some point in time get up and walk.”  

Until then, "I'll sit on the sidelines and if the coach calls me in, I'll throw my body in,” said McClelen.  

In fact, his biggest concern right now is the lesson that other teenagers can learn from him.

"Well, I hope maybe they pay more attention to the road more than what's going on inside the vehicle and stuff,” said McClelen. “Keep both hands on the wheel and just pay attention.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up for McClelen at http://gofundme.com/tq3f7dkw