BURBANK (CBSLA.com) — Students at Providence High School in Burbank were expected to graduate Tuesday, while their class salutatorian remains hospitalized.
Olivia Menke, 18, was involved in a crash with a Los Angeles County fire truck last Saturday when the Toyota Prius she was driving was T-boned on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.READ MORE: Fans React To Kobe Bryant's Posthumous Induction Into The Hall Of Fame
Menke at the time was on her way to go hiking with her aunt, cousin and brother.
“I hear ‘accident,’ ‘Olivia,’ ‘not moving.’ I can’t even explain it. I start screaming and because he’s on Facetime, I can see the wreckage behind him,” explained Erika Menke, Olivia’s mother, who was informed of the accident from Olivia’s 16-year-old brother, Carl.
Menke was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed her with a traumatic brain injury.
“I still saw her in there and I’m like, ‘OK, she will come back to us,’ ” she said.
Menke is the definition of an outstanding student with a 4.6 grade-point average.
The volleyball standout is also admired by her classmates and respected by her teachers.
“She would write letters to her teachers at the end of a semester to say ‘I like this, but you could do that differently,’ ” her mother said.READ MORE: Arson Suspected In 750-Acre Pacific Palisades Brush Fire; Mandatory Evacuations Ordered
Tuesday night marked her graduation from high school, but instead her siblings will accept her diploma.
Her mother planned to watch a streaming feed of the ceremony from her daughter’s bedside.
“I think that’s what I’m having the hardest time with because I’ve looked forward to that since she went to kindergarten,” she said.
Bentley University awarded Menke a four-year, $100,000 scholarship.
Doctors say she could make a full recovery, but the road ahead will be a long one.
“She couldn’t do something the other day and she had tears coming out of her eyes. She was so mad at herself. It’s like I know her soul, and her spirit, and her fight are still in there,” she said.
Once her daughter is able to participate in graduation, Menke’s mother said her classmates have agreed to come back and walk with her.MORE NEWS: Demonstrators Protesting Conflict Between Israel And Palestine March In Westwood
An online fundraising page has been established for Olivia. Click here for more information.