San Diego Teen Dances Again 1 Year After Violent Crash

One year after a crash nearly took her life and the lives of her family members, high school senior Taylor Cunningham is back doing what she loves: dancing on stage

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Exactly one year to the date of a violent car crash, one San Diego teenager is taking the stage again for the first time, and doing what she loves to do: dance. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen speaks with crash survivor Taylor Cunningham about her recovery and return to dance. (Published Saturday, Mar 15, 2014)

    What a difference a year can make. No one knows this better than Taylor Cunningham, a San Diego teenager nearly killed in a violent car crash last St. Patrick's Day.

    Friday, after months upon months of recovery, Taylor is gearing up to do something she thought she might never do again: dance.

    On Saturday, Taylor's school, Cathedral Catholic High School, will hold its dance show.

    Taylor will perform in the sold-out show, which will mark her first time dancing in front of a crowd since the accident that almost claimed her life and the lives of her family members.

    Santee Family Shares Cost of Drunk Driving

    [DGO] Santee Family Shares Cost of Drunk Driving
    NBC 7's Candice Nguyen talks with the Cunningham family - Will and Alise Cunningham and their children - about the effects of a drunk-driving collision that killed one driver and left them with serious injuries. (Published Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014)

    On Mar. 17, 2013, Taylor, her mother and two sisters were driving home from the very same dance show she's preparing for now when their family car was struck head-on by a suspected drunk driver traveling the wrong way on State Route 52.

    Moments before the impact, Taylor's mother, Alisa Cunningham, pushed her daughter's legs off the dashboard, saving not only Taylor’s legs but also her ability to dance.

    Taylor, her mother and sisters, Jayden and Logan Cunningham, were all seriously injured in the horrific collision. The wrong-way driver, Matthew T. Leonardo, 30, was killed in the crash.

    Taylor was in a coma for 17 days and spent a total of 75 days in the hospital. She suffered two broken wrists, a fractured pelvis, a broken right hip and traumatic brain injury.

    The injury to the right side of her brain is still affecting the left side of her body. However, in the last 12 months, she’s made incredible progress.

    So much so, that in this weekend's performance, Taylor is featured in three major dances.

    One is her senior solo, which she isn’t actually dancing alone. Her best friend and biggest cheerleader, Tory Brown, will dance beside her during the entire performance.

    The best friends say the dance represents their bond, which can never be broken, and everything Taylor has been through in the past year.

    "The song, is our time in the hospital," Taylor told NBC 7. "This dance means everything -- I can't even put it into words."

    "I think this dance shows our friendship can conquer anything," said Brown. "With each other, we're always going to be safe and sound."

    With encouragement, determination and support, the Cunningham family has come a long way. Like Taylor, her mother and sisters have also recovered from their own injuries.

    Alisa suffered broken ribs, a traumatic brain injury, a partially severed foot, smashed left hand and bruises. Logan sustained lung damage, a fractured coccyx, deep lacerations and a concussion in the crash, while Jayden suffered a fractured neck, fractured scapula, deep lacerations and a concussion.

    Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of the accident that changed the the lives of the Cunninghams. The family wants to remind people to not drink and drive this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, no matter what, as that decision can have irrevocable consequences.

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