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Hero, Survivor, Graduate

June 8, 2018

Last summer, South Carolina State Trooper Daniel Wright was responding to a vehicle accident when another car, traveling about 100 mph, collided with a fire engine on the scene. Wright was walking toward the fire engine when it was hit, and the impact threw him 30 feet. The driver of the car was killed instantly, and two firefighters were injured. Wright’s head absorbed the brunt of the blow. His skull was cracked, his nose was crushed, his orbital sockets were shattered, his jaw was broken, and he lost six teeth. Wright also had multiple injuries to his foot and elbow.

Though Wright does not remember anything between the collision and the hospital, he somehow managed to call his wife from the scene, to tell her not to worry.

Had Wright been standing 4 inches to the left, he would have been crushed by 300-pound battery boxes under the driver’s side of the fire engine, at best losing his legs.

The miracle is not lost on him.

“I took a 100-mph impact to the face in a fatal collision and survived,” Wright said. “That is my testament that God is not done with me yet.”

Remarkably, Wright was released just eight hours after being admitted to the hospital. However, his road to recovery involved a series of reconstructive surgeries.

“I had several doctors, dentists, and physical therapists working with me for six months to get me ready enough to return to work,” Wright said.

Wright showed the same determination in continuing his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice – homeland security (read more about this program).
One of his instructors, Thomas “Coach Tod” Brown, recalls an email he received from Wright shortly after the accident.

“I said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe he is alive,’ and here he is telling me, ‘I’m going to try and catch up on my assignments.’ I was sort of in shock,” Brown said. “He inspires me. His story reflects the tremendous core values that are the best about our country and people of faith.”

Brown said he is thankful to teach at a university that will work with students through difficult circumstances. “There’s a Christian ethos here that gives the student comfort knowing we are there to offer prayer and support.”

Despite suffering from short-term memory loss and headaches, Wright persevered through his classwork, earned his degree, and participated in Liberty’s Commencement. As a U.S. Army veteran receiving military benefits through Liberty’s online program, he also took part in the university’s Military Graduate Recognition Ceremony the night before. It was his first time to visit campus.

“I am the only one in my family to ever even attend college, much less graduate,” Wright said. “Graduating was about showing that I can do anything I set out to do. Rewards never come to anyone who is not willing to work for it, and anything worth truly having is worth the effort.”

For many graduates who earned their degrees through the university’s online program, Commencement is a doubly meaningful time. The pride of celebrating a milestone achievement is coupled with the magic of setting foot on campus — some for the very first time. These graduates have enjoyed the convenience of studying across the country or overseas without having to uproot their families or careers, and their stories are all woven into the fabric of Liberty’s history.

Read more inspiring stories from online graduates:

Decorated military member advances career while studying online
Mother-daughter duo celebrates graduation after bout with cancer

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