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UF student in motorcycle crash reunites with paramedics who saved his life

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 6:52 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A University of Florida student is reunited with family and friends after nearly dying in a motorcycle crash. He was released from the hospital on Thursday.

On Nov. 7 at 7:40pm, crews from Gainesville Fire Rescue responded with Alachua County Fire Rescue to a motorcycle crash near campus -- at the 1500 block of NW University Ave. UF senior Matthew Benavidez was riding his motorcycle without a helmet when he collided with an SUV. More than a month later, Benavidez said he doesn’t remember anything from the day of the accident.

On the bright side, he has finally recovered and is ready to go home. To celebrate the day, friends, family, and those paramedics who saved his life came together to welcome him back.

“I definitely held back a lot of tears ... just to see the paramedics that saved my life … it’s surreal … and to have my brothers here, my close friends. You could feel the love,” he said. “I don’t know how I feel … it’s ecstatic but at the same time it’s surreal … I shouldn’t be here right now ... but thankfully I am.”

When paramedics got to the crash that night, they began performing immediate care. Eventually, they had to perform an emergency incision to get oxygen back into his lungs. They called it a “last resort” effort.

His mother Denise Trujillo lives in Colorado. She got the news around 10 PM.

“I had a knock on my door … there was a man and a woman. The woman asked me to identify my son. I remember her telling me he had gotten in a very bad wreck. He had traumatic brain injury … broken neck, ribs, sternum, both his legs were broken. It was probably the worst day of my life ... because I didn’t know if I could get here quick enough ... because I didn’t know if he would make it.”

The crews on the scene were able to keep Benavidez alive and the staff at UF Rehab Hospital worked with him through recovery. In the end, everyone involved was shocked to see Benavidez walk out of the hospital a month later.

“I’ve been doing this for almost ten years and I have never seen anyone walk out like that before … it’s not often we get this follow up.” Gainesville Fire Rescue paramedic John Kalaf said.

“I didn’t think he was going to make it,” said Alachua County Firefighter Glenn Glasgow. “Seeing him walking and engaging in conversation ... I am glad I was wrong. A lot of times they don’t come out like that. The best case scenario? He exceeded those standards. Just amazing. He is a walking miracle right now.”

Benavidez says what the team of medical and emergency staff did to keep him alive has inspired him on his path to medical school.

“The EMT’s and the paramedics that chose to save my life and do everything for me will stick with me and make me drive to go to med school and be a better doctor every day.”

For his first stop? He said he is going to go see his dog and grab some good grub.

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