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Former UNF track star on the road to recovery after getting hit by trailer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A University of North Florida track and field athlete has a lot of recovering still left to do after he was struck by a truck and nearly lost his life.

Since his accident two months ago, Manny Velasquez sees the world differently. His view went from the track where he’s competed as a cross country runner to now from a wheelchair.

"You have to look at the glass half full I got ran over by a truck and I’m alive," Velasquez said.

Back in February, Velasquez was cooling down after a track and field event in North Carolina.

"I was on the right side of the road and a truck with a tractor trailer attached to it made a right turn into a parking lot," he said. "The truck didn’t hit me but the trailer behind it was wider than the truck.”

Velasquez was hit and dragged beneath the trailer.

"I was able to dodge some parts of my upper area. My head with the wheel of the truck but because I dodged It sent my legs the other way," he said.

He suffered a broken pelvis and collarbone, and needed skin grafts and reconstructive surgery on his knee.

"I was conscious during the whole thing,” he said.

There were more than 500 people at the track meet that day. Several people saw Velasquez get hit and ran to his aide.

"I remember after being on the floor and waiting for ambulance to come, everyone circled around me. I remember I held my coach's hand and focusing on breathing," Velasquez said.

It wasn’t until he was recovering in the hospital when the extent of his injuries sank in for him.

"You know it kind of hurts not being able to do the thing I love," he said. "Grinding out laps on this track."

But throughout his recovery his teammates and have been by his side.

How the crash happened is still under an investigation. UNF is providing the college junior with a free dorm room on the first floor during his recovery.

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