Man overcomes paralysis, runs Napa half marathon with man who crashed into him

- An avid runner who was told he may never walk again just ran the Napa Half Marathon with the man who crashed into him. 

It was a show of ultimate forgiveness as 52-year-old Dean Otto, of  Charlotte, North Carolina ran the half marathon with Will Huffman, the man involved in the accident, and his neurosurgeon, Dr. Matthew McGirt. 

The accident that almost prevented Otto from ever walking again happened last September on a dark, humid morning. 

Otto tells KTVU he had aggravated an old injury, so his coach told him to stop running and concentrate on swimming and biking. Just 12 hours later he was on a bike ride close to home when he was hit by a vehicle driven by Huffman.  

Otto says speed wasn't a factor in the crash, and he doesn't blame Huffman, "It was a case of the wrong place, wrong time." As Otto was on the pavement he remembered thinking, "There has to be a higher power out there... at that point I said a little prayer. God this is more than I can handle - this is all yours."

Otto tells KTVU he immediately forgave Huffman and just wanted to focus on moving forward. He was taken into surgery with a broken back, pelvis, tailbone, broken ribs and dislocated back. Otto says it was a miracle he didn't lose spinal fluid. 

The outlook post-surgery wasn't good. "I knew I had a shot... the odds were stacked against me. I had a 1 or 2 percent chance to ever walk again." 

He made a deal with Dr. McGirt while in the recovery room that they would eventually run a half marathon and raise money for spinal cord patients.  

Meanwhile Huffman stopped by the hospital to apologize for the accident and visit with Otto.

Otto thought it was going to be awkward but they instantly formed a friendship. He said forgiveness and acceptance is very important to him, so he didn't harbor any harsh feelings toward Huffman about the crash.

He just wanted to move forward - and part of that was getting back to running. 

It wasn't an easy journey but Otto started by using a walker and worked his way up to walk a 5K. He steadily defied the odds and built up his endurance. 

Otto along with Huffman and McGirt set their sights on the Napa Half Marathon which took place one year after the marathon. 

Otto says the best part of his journey is that he's raised 80,000 for spinal cord research. 

 

 

 

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