(WSVN) - Javier Perez, the South Florida principal who was hit by a drunk driver, is speaking out for the first time since that driver went to jail. 7’s Rosh Lowe has his story in tonight’s Lowedown.
Rosh Lowe: “Did you ever think you’d be able to do this again?”
Javier Perez: “Never. Never in a million years.”
Javier Perez, the beloved principal of South Dade Senior High School, is back on a baseball field.
Javier Perez: “You’ve got to keep your chin up, keep fighting. If I didn’t get out there and do this, I didn’t think my recovery would get to 100 percent.”
Baseball has always been his love.
Javier Perez: “I get to be out here and see a lot of the guys that actually played for me in high school, or guys who played with me growing up.”
The principal has returned to the baseball complex in West Miami-Dade where his life was changed forever.
In April of 2016, Marilyn Aguilera was drunk when she slammed her SUV through a fence, pinning Perez underneath. Perez was at the park coaching his son’s Little League team.
Two weeks ago, Aguilera pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Judge: “I sentence you to five years in state prison.”
Perez did not attend the sentencing. In fact, this is the first time he is speaking publicly since Aguilera was sent away to serve her time.
He says she changed his life — in many ways.
Javier Perez: “Without a doubt. But at the same time, it’s also been changed for the better.”
He tries to focus on the positive. He recently became the baseball commissioner managing the Tamiami Youth Baseball Association, where more than 1,500 children play ball.
Javier Perez: “As long as we’re strong in the mind and we are positive, we can do anything, we really can. And right now, we are going to prove it. We are going to play catch.”
Javi wanted to show everybody the progress he made. He wanted to have a catch with us, so that’s what we are going to do. What’s incredible about this is that Javi has been playing baseball his whole life.
Javier Perez: “You know, I haven’t been back here since the accident. It’s my first time.”
And then the moment comes when he goes back to the actual field where he lost his legs.
Javier Perez: “It’s sad, because obviously I lost part of myself in this spot.”
Perez compares life to a baseball game. He was in a bad spot and down to his last at bat.
Javier Perez: “And I was given no chance to coming back.”
But he did come back — now throwing that ball in victory. Javier Perez has won.
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