'Miracle man' celebrates second chance after DART crash




Posted on July 30, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 5:00 PM

DALLAS — Jose Sepulveda sits on his porch, even with the temperature rising to more than 100 degrees. He can't stop admiring the view.

"I'm looking at everything," Sepulveda said. "I almost didn't get to see this again."

But seconds later, his feeling of serenity was shattered by the pain raging through his body.

The suffering and the scars on Sepulveda's body are reminders of the afternoon of June 29, when he decided to take the Dallas North Tollway home instead of North Central Expressway. He remembers sitting in traffic on the ramp to Interstate 35, checking his rear view mirror.

He remembers seeing trouble — a DART paratransit van was heading toward his car without any sign of stopping.

"I remember seeing him 10 feet away. It was the worst feeling," Sepulveda said. "I remember I held on to the steering wheel and I just closed my eyes."

When the father and husband woke up, he found his car's rear license plate by his elbow. The car was destroyed. The steering wheel impaled his chest and the back seat crushed his right shoulder and hip.

Firefighters pried open the car to pull him out.

"I remember when they were cutting the car, I was thinking, 'Is this it?' I was gasping for air. I thought my life was over," Sepulveda recalled.

He spent more than three weeks in the hospital. In therapy, he doubled up on exercises. He did everything he could to get better so he can go home to his wife and two children.

His family motivated him at every step. Nurses called him the "miracle man."

"It hurt me real bad, but I'm lucky I'm breathing," Sepulveda said. "I'm lucky that I'm here to see everybody — my wife, my kids, my mom. I'm lucky that I'm alive."

He feels blessed to be home, telling News 8 his entire family is his main source of strength.

For Sepulveda's wife Pollieanna — who is a nurse — the hardest part is seeing her husband in pain, but she's grateful that he survived.

"I just thank God he's alive and that he's here with us," she said. "It's a long road, but we are going to make it together as a family. We have a lot of support."

Sepulveda still needs more surgery and months of occupational, physical, speech, and cognitive therapy. He's determined to give it his all, because he wants to accomplish one goal.

"It hard to see my kids and not be able to pick them up, you know, or hug them because I can't turn around and hug them," he said. "That's what I want to be able to do."

The preliminary crash investigation found that there was no evidence of drugs, alcohol or cell phone use, but it did reveal that the DART driver failed to control his speed and failed to pay attention.

The family has hired Dallas attorney Robert Crain, but no lawsuits have been filed.

Sepulveda is keen to remain focused on his recovery; he doesn't want to dwell on that terrifying afternoon on the tollway one month ago.

"It doesn't serve a purpose to be angry at anyone," he said. "I mean, I got a second chance... I got a second chance at life."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com