Texas Girl Paralyzed by Drunk Driver Leaves Jury in Tears
The life of Xitclalli "Chilli" Vasquez, 9, took a tragic turn in the summer of 2011 when a drunk driver's car collided head-on with the car the Fort Worth, Texas, girl was riding in, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.
Last week, on the day of convicted drunk driver Jeremy Solis's sentencing at Tarrant County Court, Vasquez had a chance to read him a letter she had written, a letter that brought Solis, the jury, and everyone present in the court room to tears, witnesses said.
The four-page handwritten letter presented to the jury was titled "From One of Your Victom." It explained how Vasquez was going to the mall with her sister "to get my hair cut and my nails done." That was all she could recall of the fateful day of the crash. "I don't remember the first several days. I could not talk, so I had to use my thumb to answer yes or no. While I was in UCLA I had very bad moments. They take xrays of me every day. Feed me through by gbutton. I had tubes through my mouth and nose."
"There were times that I would cry and cry…in therapy they showed me how to lift myself and dress myself. But right now it's still very hard. My mom does a lot for me but I try myself. There are days that I cry cause I can't do what I used to. Well, I could keep going but my hand is getting tired. I would like you to meet me and my family…there are days that are bad because I have a hard time getting around. "
"Look at what I said and the words I said and tell me how I look and feel. How do you feel today? Do you remember July 9th?"
Vasquez, who is the third of five siblings, turned 8 three days after her July 9, 2011 accident. She is a fourth grader who has a talent for mathematics, and wants to be a doctor some day. Her dream is to walk again.
"I hope Jeremy would respond to my letter," Chilli told ABC News. "It will make me happy if he says he is sorry," she said. Chilli said she planned to send him more letters while he was serving his sentence and hoped he would respond.
The prosecutor for Solis's case, Allenna Bangs, said that Solis was sentenced to 10 years in prison and would be eligible for parole in five years. "There were no restitution charges. It was not a trial, rather it was a plea case and he pleaded [guilty]," said Bangs. Solis pleaded guilty to two counts of intoxication assault.
Bangs said that at the time of the accident Solis's blood alcohol level was 0.23. "This is nearly three times the legal limit. He is 21 years old with no criminal history," she said.
Amid Vasquez's ordeals with rehab and therapy, her family said that she was a miracle child. "It is very difficult when your child suddenly has a handicap. But no matter how bad it is, we feel blessed to have Chilli with us and fortunate that she made it alive," Arabella Vasquez, Vasquez's mother, told ABC News. "She is a survivor. Many people die because of drunk driving accidents but Chilli made it alive and we all have faith she will walk again someday," she said.