Khalia Carter of Fort Myers, Florida, was driving home on the evening of April 18 after spending some time with a friend when a motorcycle ran into the back of her car.
“It was a pretty hard impact,” her mother Shawnda Cook told Good Morning America. “But she ended up, car escalating down the road, like at about 90 miles an hour, and then going into a ditch. Later, she was transported by ambulance to a hospital. And we later found out that the driver of the motorcycle was a drunk driver. His blood alcohol levels [were] three times over the alcohol limit.”
The car accident left 18-year-old Carter seriously injured, with a mobility disorder, a traumatic brain injury, speech impairment, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She was initially unable to walk but with the help of intensive therapy, she was able to recover in time to walk at her high school graduation a month after the accident.
On May 21, Carter joined her Fort Myers High School’s class of 2022 at Hertz Arena to receive her diploma. Her family was there to support her.
“This was such a huge milestone. Khalia had so many odds against her,” her mom said. “It’s hard [for her] to be in a big crowded environment and so for her to take the initiative to go and be around such a large crowd was huge for her. So to see her take the initiative to do it and walk across that stage by herself? It was amazing.”
While recovering from the crash, Carter said she had one goal in mind, and that was to walk at her school graduation.
“I was determined. Nobody was going to stop me from doing that,” Carter told Good Morning America. “I knew, as soon as it happened, I told my mom in the hospital that I’m still going to go to graduation.”
Carter said she pushed every day as hard as she could and gave 110% every day at therapy, to try to be able to walk across the stage.
Now she plans to get better to enable her to attend Georgia Southern University in the fall, where she would like to study either journalism or education.