LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Saturday marked an important step forward, in more ways than one, for University of Louisville student Chelsea Hogue.
In early February, Hogue and a friend were driving on Taylorsville Road when an alleged drunk driver crashed into their car. Hogue suffered a traumatic brain injury in the wreck and went into a coma.
Saturday at Broad Run Park, in front of friends and family, Hogue stood up out of her wheelchair and, literally, took a step forward.
"It makes me cry. I'm proud of her, I can't wait to see her run," her stepmother Michelle Hogue said.
The celebration was also for Megan Lakes, Hogue's friend and passenger in the car. She suffered four broken ribs, a broken tailbone and a hip fracture in the accident.
"I saw headlights headed straight for us and (they) just slammed into us" Lakes said. "I thought I was going to lose my best friend."
Still dealing with paralyzed vocal chords, the recovery for Hogue has been tough.
"She was in the worst possible condition you can imagine," her stepfather Robert Patton said.
The criminal process has been just as hard.
Jose Munoz Aguilar, an undocumented immigrant, was accused of being drunk at the time of the wreck. Charges were upgraded to assault and, after posting bond, he was put into custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It then released him saying, "he does not currently meet ICE enforcement priorities." Aguilar missed his subsequent hearing.
According to neighbors and attorneys, Aguilar moved out of his apartment while supposedly under ICE's watch. He hasn't been seen since March.
"There was no justice given," Lakes said. "It was completely unfair, and it's not right."
"We're not hearing from the prosecutor's office. We're not hearing from ICE. We're not hearing from anybody," Michelle Hogue said.
In the meantime the family focuses on the positives. That was the focus of Saturday's get-together.
"It's a celebration of all her hard work she's put in, in therapy and stuff, so it's nice for everyone to come out and see, see all her hard work," Patton said.
Focused on helping others, Hogue was studying to become a nurse. Now, she wants to focus specifically on being a trauma nurse.
The family is holding a fundraiser Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Hillview Government Center. The event will include a silent auction and live music.