NJ teen athlete who lost foot in tragic accident receives special visit from Paralympian

NEW BRUNSWICK — Lance Vargas knows how it feels to not only defeat the odds — but to clobber them.

The Edison 18-year-old was given a grim prognosis after a tragic accident in October when he plunged 30 feet while climbing a steel railroad trestle and landing on high voltage lines.

He suffered burns on 70 percent of his body. Doctors were later forced to amputate his left foot.

After months of surgeries and rehab at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, Vargas is finally going home.

His attitude is what doctors say got him out of the woods.

“I told my friends if you don’t make fun of me for falling off this bridge then you were not my friends,” a humbled Vargas told PIX11 News. “You have to look at the positive.”

Before he leaves the hospital, Vargas, a star athlete at J.P. Stevens High School, came face-to-face with another man who persevered despite tragedy, Paralympian snowboarder Dan Monzo.

The 27-year-old New Jersey native lost his left leg in a dirt bike accident when he was 15 but went on to represent team USA in Sochi at the Paralympics.

“No matter what the situation is, there is always an open door,” Monzo said, referring to what he hopes people take away from his story.

Monzo’s story is giving many like Vargas hope for the future.

“I hope that when someone sees someone with a prosthetic and see how far you’ve come,” Vargas said. “I hope that they push themselves to reach that or way past it.”

Attitude, according to this pair, will take you a long way.

“The day I woke up from being an amputee, my brother took a photo of me for MySpace and he put a little Transformer leg on it,” Monzo said. “That was the first joke I ever saw someone have about an amputee.”