When Katie Williams sees a familiar friend, person or horse, she grins and waves. Just these two simple gestures defy what doctors said about her just over a year ago.
On March 16, 2016, Katie was turning left at a green light when another driver blew past a red light and slammed into the driver's side of the car she was driving.
Katie was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition.
"She would come in and out, they had to revive her twice. It was a very very bad wreck," said her older brother Joe Williams.
Doctors told Joe that Katie would never walk or talk or even be able to show emotion.
"It didn't look good at all. The doctors didn't know what to tell us, we didn't know what to do," said Joe. Katie lives with Joe and his wife and their 6-month-old baby. "She don't remember any of it. We tell her -- we can remember more than she should remember."
Katie had broken many bones, both her clavicles, her ribs, both legs, her pelvis, her neck, and more, but Joe said she did not have one scratch on her face because their mom, who had passed, was looking out for her.
However, her injuries were so severe that doctors had to put her into a six-week medically induced coma.
"As soon as she opened her eyes, she got better every day," said Joe.
When they moved Katie out of the ICU, Joe began bringing in ponies and Katie's dogs to visit her. He said the powers of animals, particularly horses, have helped Katie get to the point where she is now; talking as much as she can and smiling.
Katie's speech is still limited, and likely will be for the rest of her life, "That's the biggest thing, it's got to be the most frustrating to not be able to get what you want out and she takes it like a champ," said Joe.
Katie had an accident last march and doctors didn't think she'd be able to show emotion or speak. Her brother said horses helped save her. pic.twitter.com/AHw8n58Nwb— Destiny Johnson (@Hello_Destiny) May 18, 2017
During physical therapy, Joe said the therapists said they couldn't get Katie to put her heels down on the ground. But, when they got Katie home and put a saddle on some bales of hay, Katie sat straight up, heels down, as if she had muscle memory of riding horses.
Katie was a competitive rider before her accident, and getting back in the saddle is the goal. Katie decided that she was going to sell two horses she has had for years in order to put the money toward a therapy horse. Right now, her coordination and balance is not where it needs to be for her to get onto horseback, but Katie and Joe are working on it.
Photos: Katie Williams and the love of horses
Though there may be a conversational barrier between Katie and her family and friends, there isn't one between her and the horses. Joe tells her to talk to the horses because though he may not be able to understand her, the horses will.
“She had proved them wrong every day,” Joe said looking to her sister with a smile, “little fighter.”
Joe is competing in the Mustang Makeover competition, something Katie was working to compete in the year of the accident. You can attend and cheer on Joe, Katie and their horse Silhouette May 18-20 at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.