What was supposed to be a sweet gesture for Valentine’s Day ended in a collision involving a car and a student on a longboard last month.
The accident took place on Feb. 13 in the intersection of USF Palm Drive and USF Holly Drive, when Andrew “AJ” Lazara, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, was on his way to the USF Post Office to send a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend.
According to the crash report from the University Police Department, the traffic light was green for the cars and Lazara failed to properly give the right of way to the vehicle he collided with at the time he crossed the road.
Lazara was taken to Tampa General Hospital right after the collision took place. He was later transferred to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, where his family currently lives.
After the accident, Andrew was in a coma for two weeks. He eventually woke up in Miami surrounded by his family.
“When I woke up from the coma, I did not remember anything from the accident so my family had to explain everything that happened,” Lazara said.
Lazara was officially discharged from Ryder Trauma Center on March 19. He will return to USF when he is fully recovered. Until then, he will stay in Miami with his family.
As a result of the collision, Lazara suffered a brain injury. In addition, he had frontal and orbital fractures on his face, a broken ankle and cuts on both legs.
A month after the accident, Lazara was unable to walk or perform normal daily activities. He went through physical therapy until his ankle healed and participated in occupational and speech therapy, which helped him with thought processing, swallowing and communicating with others.
“After I woke up, I couldn’t talk and not even walk due to my broken ankle,” Lazara said.
As a way to fundraise money to cover a portion of his medical expenses, Lazara’s uncle, Ruthu Lazara, created a GoFundMe page on Feb. 22 with a goal of $10,000. So far, the campaign has raised $6,720.
“We are primarily asking for your prayers and positive energy but we would gladly accept your generosity,” Ruthu wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Again, thanks be to God for saving AJ and thank you for your prayers and generosity.”
More than 109 people have donated to the campaign to cover Lazara’s medical expenses.
An anonymous person donated the highest value, coming to a total of $1,000.
“AJ and our entire family are so grateful for your generosity,” his family wrote in a statement in response to the donation. “Although he is improving every day, his journey to full recovery has just started.”