MODESTO — A Modesto man who lost his vision and one of his legs after a horrific DUI crash last year shared his story Friday with students to teach them the dangers of driving under the influence.
A scripted “Every 15 Minutes” scenario at Gregori High School was a heartwrenching reminder for Manuel Russ and his family.
“This reenactment you guys see here today is my family’s reality,” Russ told the students. “There wasn’t a doctor who thought I was going to live. I died three times the morning of the accident.”
Russ says he was on his way to work on September 18. The next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital.
The CHP says a suspected drunk driver hit him.
Russ had his jaw wired shut, he is now blind and his left leg had to be amputated.
But he has grit and determination.
“I had to come and get my story out. I felt like I had to push something good out of it,” he said.
Russ says he relearned to speak and now uses his story of survival to influence young people.
“Never drink and drive, ever, because just because you think you’re OK, you’re not,” student Rick Gregory said.
Russ says that suspected drunk driver’s decision impacted his family far beyond his injuries. He says he was the only source of income for his family and they will soon be homeless.
“It changes lives all the way around,” he said. “Not being able to see my wife and my grandkids anymore, it does hurt, but I don’t let it get me down.”
Russ’s family is getting temporary help from Stanislaus County, but it’s only for 16 days. They are hoping to raise money to help them find housing.