NEW YORK (PIX11) — In a heartwarming and emotional reunion, a Farmingdale High School band student, who survived that fatal bus crash back in September, made a triumphant return to the hospital Wednesday to thank the surgeon who saved her from potential paralysis. In turn, she was in for a surprise by the flight crew who airlifted her to the hospital.
Sept. 21 is a daunting day Audrina Crocitto will never forget. The 15-year-old recounted the harrowing moments last month when she and her friends were on a bus headed to band camp when it careened off the road and rolled down an embankment.
“It kind of swerved and then it swerved again, and then after that I think I blacked out and then I wake up and I just see what happened and I’m like, is this real,” said Audrina.
The crash killed band director Gina Pellettiere and chaperone Beatrice Ferrari, while leaving Audrina with serious spinal and neck injuries. Her mother, Kristi Crocitto, described the nightmare of events following what she calls the worst phone call of her life.
“I received a picture from someone of the bus in the ravine and when I saw that, I was completely devastated,” said Kristi.
The high school freshman made a visit to Cohen Children’s Medical Center on Long Island Wednesday to thank her surgeon, Dr. Shaun Rodgers, whose work enabled her to walk once again.
“He’s the reason why I’m here today and why I’m walking and I’m very thankful,” Audrina said.
“She fractured a vertebra in her spine and we had to put screws and rods in to stabilize her spine,” said Dr. Rodgers.
But in a reunion she wasn’t expecting, Audrina was brought to tears after being surprised by the flight crew, Michael Bosi and Amen Alhadi, who airlifted her to the hospital. The flight nurse and paramedic were elated to see Audrina, who is on her journey to recovery.
“I can’t thank you enough for allowing us to see you again and seeing how great you’re doing and I hope this is motivation to keep pushing forward,” said Bosi.
As the Long Island community continues to mourn that fateful day, a fundraiser held at Phil’s Pizza & Restaurant aims to benefit the victims of the bus crash. There are 130 pizzerias participating in the fundraiser this week. You can also stop by several other restaurants Thursday and Friday. You can find a full list of participating restaurants here.