PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — One year after a serious crash that nearly took Elijah Alexander's life, he thanked the firefighters and paramedics who helped save him.
Alexander was hit while riding his motorcycle through the intersection of Gulf to Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road on May 1, 2018. Clearwater Police Officers say the driver who hit him ran a red light.
When first responders saw the accident scene, they weren't sure if Alexander would live.
Alexander defied all odds. He underwent surgery to his face, hands and wrist. He spent nearly 30 days in a coma before being transferred to a rehabilitation center for six months. He lost his front teeth and a bone in his arm, but gained a profound appreciation for life.
On Wednesday, Alexander got a chance to thank the first responders who saved his life and arrived within minutes of the accident.
Paramedics believe Alexander's helmet and their quick response made the difference in his incredible survival.
Alexander is learning how to walk and talk all over again, but his parents say they are incredibly proud of his progress.
He's also on a mission to push for change at the dangerous intersection, which averages more than 100 crashes a year. He is advocating for the blinking yellow turn arrows to be deactivated.
He believes the design of the intersection is putting more drivers in danger. The area of Gulf to Bay and Belcher is the county's top priority for safety fixes. The county is even looking at a change that could mean eliminating left turns at the intersection altogether.
Alexander is in great spirits. "I’m so happy to be here,” he said with a hearty chuckle.
Clearwater Firefighter Lt. Dominick Briganti couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Alexander. Briganti was the first on scene the day of the crash. “I don’t think anyone on that scene thought that would be a survivable accident. To see him walking, talking and smiling. It's amazing. Simply amazing,” he said with a smile.
“He's an inspiration not just to us, but to everyone that sees him,” Elijah Alexander's dad Barak Alexander explained.
Alexander's family credit his helmet and the men and women who were first to the scene for saving his life. “How could you say thank you for saving my life? Saving my son’s life? There are not enough words. I'm just so grateful,” Elijah Alexander's mom Lillian Alexander said while fighting back tears.