Utah girl, blinded by DUI crash, rides bike for the first time
(KUTV) A year ago, 13-year-old Brynnli Cherry 's family didn't know whether she'd survive a terrible accident caused by a drunk driver.
Brynlee was left blind from the crash and her face was crushed. She was only 12 at the time, when she was riding in the backseat of a car that was slammed by a drunk driver. Most of the bones in her face were crushed, leaving her without a nose and without her eyesight.
"I remember when I woke up I couldn't see and I asked my mom why I couldn't see and she told me that I just became blind and told me about the accident and I was bawling," Brynnli explained a year after the terrifying crash.
The driver involved in the crash, 41-year-old Dean Anthony Dominguez, later pled guilty to third degree felony driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol. Dominguez was sentenced to prison earlier this year for up to 5 years.
For Brynnli, she will never fully recover from the crash. It's taken 11 surgeries and bone grafts for doctors to reconstruct her nose, but she's still unable to see.
Despite tremendous hardships, Bynnlee has learned braille, and her mom Kerri says she's more confident now.
"Her big thing was not having anyone to eat lunch with. It just took a while for people to realize she couldn't see to ask anyone to eat lunch with," her mom explained.
But Tuesday night, she took a big step in her recovery as she got back on a bike for the first time. Cyclists from Intermountain Healthcare helped raise donations to provide a specialized bike for Brynnlee to ride.
With the help of friends who pitched in to get her the bike, Brynlee got back in the driver's seat. She can't see where she's going, but says it feels great.
"I don't want anything to hold her back, I want her to do everything she wants to do," her mom said.
Brynlee completed a half marathon with the help of friends and family by riding in a go-car this year. Her goal is to train on the bike and then a half marathon on foot next year.
To hear more about Brynnlee's recovery, visit her Facebook page.