Knoxville teens still recovering 1 year after wrong way crash in West Virginia


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Tuesday marked one year since a crash in Raleigh County, West Virginia, that killed a Knoxville woman and injured her two daughters and their friend.

Police say an SUV going the wrong way hit a car driven by Lisa McCormick head on. McCormick was killed. Her two daughters Tori and Carlie and their friend Haylie Hammett were injured. The driver of the SUV, Rafael Herrera, 43, was also injured. He was charged with second degree murder.

Tori and Carlie McCormick spoke with WATE 6 On Your Side via Skype.

“When I first woke up, it made me instantly realize that it had been a year and I was like, wow, I haven’t seen my mom in year, heard her voice. I haven’t hugged her, told her I love her. It was just unreal to me,” said Tori McCormick. “She had the greatest laugh. I can picture her cracking up in my head right now.”

Tori, 17, and Carlie, 15, say its been the toughest year of their life after losing their mother in a car accident and having to relocate to West Virginia. The girls were on spring break from Bearden Middle and High School visiting their grandmother in West Virginia when it all happened.Previous story: Knoxville woman killed, 4 injured in wrong-way wreck in West Virginia 

“Before my mom was hit in the accident, she saw the car coming and thought fast enough to swerve the car so most of the impact would be on her. Because the car was coming toward my side and she swerved it so it would be on her side,” said Tori.

The girls say they have mixed emotions thinking about the accident.

“It also brought me anger because an innocent woman, my mom was killed by a guy that only thought of himself that was selfish and was driving under the influence,” said Tori. “He’ll never understand how much he has hurt me and my family.”

Carlie broke her back in four different places and Tori was in a coma for 12 days.

“I have traumatic brain injury, not only traumatic – my doctor said it was severe,” said Tori. “I broke my nose. I broke the right side of my jaw. I broke my right collar bone, my right leg and my leg foot.”

“I had a fracture in my right foot. I fractured my collar bone. I had a cornea scratched and I cracked my ribs,” said Carlie.

Tori says she had to learn how to walk and talk again. Both say they’ve come a long way but the healing process is far from over.

“My frontal lobe which controls my decision making and me focusing in class, when someone is talking and I’m trying to read something I can’t not focus,” said Tori.

“We’re all lucky, I remember the doctor telling my oldest sister Catie that I was so close to being paralyzed and life would a lot harder if I was paralyzed,” said Carlie.

Tori will graduate high school in May and hopes to attend college. She says she wants to be an orthopedic surgeon and Carlie wants to be a psychologist. Their friend Haylie Hammett had her last surgery in February. The McCormicks say Hammett had to have six surgeries on her left eye but she is doing well.

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