TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week, AAA Arizona invited the survivor of a violent car wreck to tell his story to local students with the hopes they make the right decisions on the road.
At the start of the assembly Tuesday morning at Flowing Wells High School, a teacher asked how many students have been in a car when someone has been "driving a little crazy" and they didn't say anything.
Nearly every student in the auditorium raised his or her hand.
Tyler Presnell was 14 when he didn't say anything. A 16-year-old family friend behind the wheel had been licensed for less than a week.
"He decided to show off and get reckless," Presnell said. "And he lost control."
The car struck a telephone poll.
"I flew around that car like a ping pong ball," Presnell said, describing the moments after impact.
Presnell was sitting in the passenger side backseat during the life-changing accident. Had he taken the two seconds to buckle his seat belt, he likely would not have suffered the same brain trauma.
"I forget things all the time, all the time," Presnell said during his presentation. "Everyday I forget things. Every few minutes I forget things."
Presnell's twin brother and little sister were also in the car during the crash. Like the driver, they were wearing seat-belts and they survived the crash with less serious injuries
Presnell told the high school students when he was there age he couldn't walk. When he finally got out of the wheel chair, he had a noticeable limp.
"And I'd walk out into public areas and I would just be stared at and it would eat me up inside," Presnell said, describing the emotional pain that resulted from his physical injuries.
But Presnell reminded students car crash victims aren't the only ones to feel the pain.
"It will affect everyone around you," he said. "When you're injured bad, your mother and your father have to totally change the way they were living. It becomes taking care of you when you were supposed to take care of yourself."
To this day, Presnell said the driver responsible for the crash has yet to apologize.