SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA.com) — At 14, Taylor Smith had dreams of attending the Juilliard School and making it to Broadway.
But life for this straight-A student, varsity volleyball team player and star alto in the elite ensemble “The Choraliers” changed instantly June 4.
It was then that she and a group of students were struck by a car that careened off the 170 Freeway while walking back from P.E. class.
Taylor, who was struck head-on, took the brunt of the impact and was thrown about 50 feet before landing on the pavement.
Her mother, Laurel Carini, recalls the horrifying moments after the crash when she first heard from a doctor.
“I kind of sunk and I was like, ‘Oh, my God! What? What?’ And he couldn’t really talk to me and that’s when I knew it was really bad,” she told KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold.
Taylor sustained a fractured skull, broken cheekbones, a shattered pelvis and loss of memory.
And for more than a month, she could barely move.
“And I remember her just sort of reaching out to me and just, kinda pulling me to her. And I thought, ‘Oh, my God! She knows who I am. She knows who I am.’ And we just laid there and that’s when I knew she was in there. We just had to get her,” Carini recounted.
But with that small gesture, Carini knew her daughter would recover.
After 64 days, Taylor walked out of the hospital Oct. 8.
“It’s kinda weird because I don’t remember anything about it. I’m really, truly a miracle ’cause, I mean, not many people live through this,” Taylor told Weingold.
Taylor is now undergoing intense rehabilitation and spends six hours a day, five days a week at the Centre for Neuro Skills repairing the pathways in her brain.
“She had a severe bleed. Her injury was really in one of the most severe categories,” said Roslyn Hart, clinical case manager and physical therapist.
In fact, her injuries are so severe she will likely require another year to two of therapy, which costs $1,200 per day.
Because her insurance only covers a few weeks at best, a family friend started the Taylor Smith Pie Smash Challenge to help offset the costs.
So far, they’ve raised more than $100,000, enough for 100 days of treatment.
But Taylor is determined to do whatever it takes to return to school full time and is eager to return to the stage to sing.
“I was talking to my friend the other day and she told me, ‘I’m doing homework’ and I said, ‘Oh, I’m so jealous.’ And she said, ‘OK, you’re crazy,'” she said. “I really just want to go back. I want to go to classes. Most kids don’t want to. I do.”
Click here for more information about the Taylor Smith Pie Smash Challenge.