SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — Every time Eliza DeAngelis passes the spot on Hartford Pike where she nearly lost her life this past summer, she’s immediately overcome with fear.
“Sometimes in the car I still get a little scared,” she said. “Scared someone else is going to hit me.”
The 21-year-old Scituate resident was driving home from work last July when an oncoming car crashed head-on into her vehicle.
When asked what she remembered from that night, Eliza said it was all a blur.
“I don’t even remember going to work that day,” she said. “I don’t want to remember though, because it was a bad night.”
Eliza spent several months in the hospital recovering from a number of injuries, ranging from a shattered pelvis and fractured neck to severe intestinal trauma.
“I’m still pretty limited and I don’t know when it’ll get better,” she added. “I have a cane. I was in a wheelchair two months ago, so it’s improving. The physical therapy is definitely helping and I’m just trying to do what I can do to get back [to normal].”
Eliza’s lengthy road to recovery hasn’t been easy on her family either. Her father, Joe DeAngelis, tells 12 News the ordeal has been a nightmare.
“Just surviving the impact of that crash was a miracle in itself,” he said. “It wasn’t easy just seeing her almost lifeless, connected to a ventilator for four weeks … It was brutal, but we had faith.”
The driver of that car, identified as 24-year-old Kyle Watson, has since been charged with driving under the influence.
When asked whether she thinks Watson is remorseful for his actions, Eliza said she doesn’t think so.
“I don’t feel like he’s sorry,” she said. “Instead of going over to help me, he didn’t even care that I was almost dying.”
“I’m a nice person, so I don’t wish him harm, but we’re just two different types of people,” Eliza continued.
Five months after the life-changing crash, Eliza is slowly but surely getting her life back. She recently started driving again, and even though it’s difficult, she makes it a point to pass by the crash site every day.
“I need to get over my fears,” she said. “I don’t want to live my life in fear forever.”
After everything that’s happened over the past several months, Eliza said she’s thankful for everyone who’s rallied around her family during these difficult times.
“I’m happy that there are so many amazing people in this world who are supporting a random girl and just helping her get through this journey,” she said, referring to herself.
Eliza said this entire ordeal has taught her to persevere through tough situations.
“Always have hope, no matter what happens, and never give up, no matter how hard it gets,” she said. “Even though it may seem like nothing is getting better, you just have to keep praying and hoping and take it one step at a time.”
This holiday season, Eliza has a lot to be grateful for.
“I’m thankful I’m still here and to be able to spend [the holidays] with my friends and family,” she said.
By sharing her story, Eliza hopes people will think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.
“It does ruin lives,” she said. “I am suffering still every day … it’s just crazy how many accidents and deaths happen because of drunk driving.”
Eliza is a junior at the University of Rhode Island. She hopes to one day become a nutritionist and personal trainer.
The DeAngelis family is accepting donations to help curb the cost of Eliza’s medical expenses. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so by sending a check to the following address:
Eliza DeAngelis Supplemental Needs Trust
1177 Greenwich Avenue
Warwick, RI 02886
A GoFundMe page is also accepting donations on Eliza’s behalf.