It’s been 88 days since Cruz Melendez has been home. The Trabuco Hills High School senior was seriously injured in a crash in Rancho Santa Margarita on May 24.
On Saturday, he was discharged from CHOC Children’s Hospital in Mission Viejo where he was greeted by loving family members and supportive friends.
The 17-year-old was seriously injured when he was hit head-on by another vehicle at the intersection of Antonio Parkway at Tijeras Creek Road in Rancho Santa Margarita. The driver of the other vehicle was killed in the crash. Their passenger, as well as Cruz, were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Cruz’s mom, Rahnee Melendez, described the moment she realized something was wrong on that May night.
“When I got a call at 2 a.m., I just knew, I knew something was wrong,” she said. “I didn’t even answer the phone. I just went straight to his room and he was not there.”
The multi-sport athlete has spent the last three months recovering. He’s undergone 16 different surgeries, including having his right leg amputated.
“I couldn’t really see myself walking on that foot seeing how bad the wounds were,” Melendez told KTLA. “The bone was like out of my foot, basically. And I had an infection. After about a week I was like, ‘I am done, go for for the amputation.'”
It was a difficult decision, but he’s not letting it slow him down any time soon.
While recovery has been hard and he has a long road ahead of him, loved ones say his indomitable spirit makes anything possible.
“I try to keep my mindset as positive as possible. I have broken down here a few times because of how hard it has been, but I try to stay positive. God’s got me.”
Cruz says he’ll be back up and running and playing around in no time. It’s an ambitious prediction, but one that seems inevitable.
As for what’s next? The incoming senior is just hoping to get some normalcy back in life, while reflecting on his journey so far.
“I am just so grateful for my friends and family. Everyone else who has reached out and giving me donations and stuff. It’s just amazing.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with the costs of Cruz’s medical treatment and rehabilitation. To read more, click here.