Teen hopes to walk again after horrific car accident in Wittmann

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18-year-old Colton McMurdie is working hard to walk again after a severe rollover crash. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) 18-year-old Colton McMurdie is working hard to walk again after a severe rollover crash. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The crash happened on March 25 when the back left tire blew on Colton's Toyota 4Runner. (Source: Tara McMurdie) The crash happened on March 25 when the back left tire blew on Colton's Toyota 4Runner. (Source: Tara McMurdie)
Colton spent two months at Phoenix Children's Hospital following his car accident in Wittmann. (Source: Tara McMurdie) Colton spent two months at Phoenix Children's Hospital following his car accident in Wittmann. (Source: Tara McMurdie)
Colton grew up playing sports like basketball, baseball, hockey and football. (Source: Tara McMurdie) Colton grew up playing sports like basketball, baseball, hockey and football. (Source: Tara McMurdie)
WITTMANN, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

While many people get caught up in gifts during the holidays, one Valley teen wants a present that can’t be found under the tree. 

It’s something many of us take for granted – the ability to walk. 

"If I could ask Santa Claus for that, absolutely, for sure,” 18-year-old Colton McMurdie said. 

Colton loves to play football, baseball and hockey along with team roping and fishing. He never stops moving, but on March 25, 2017, everything changed. 

Colton was driving home on 211th Avenue and Joy Ranch Road in Wittmann when his back left tire blew. 

“As his tire blew, he went off on the side of the road. He had a build-up of desert debris which caused him to go end over end,” Aaron McMurdie, Colton’s father, said. 

Colton’s Toyota 4Runner flipped 10 times during the crash. He was ejected out of his vehicle going about 70 miles an hour.  

“His friend was pretty hysterical on the phone. I heard the car and I heard Colton and I knew what happened,” Tara McMurdie, Colton’s mother, said.

Medics rushed Colton to Phoenix Children’s Hospital where Dr. Justin Lee worked as the trauma surgeon that night.

“It was one of those injuries, we aren't going to wait until the next day,” Lee said. 

Colton couldn’t move his legs with the left leg taking the biggest hit, but that wasn’t all. 

“He had a combination of a spinal cord injury as well as a vascular injury and he had an aortic injury,” Lee said.

After almost a dozen surgeries and two months in the hospital, Colton left PCH. The staff, along with his paramedic father, were amazed Colton had even made it to the hospital to begin with.

“I’ll just tell you bluntly, he’s a miracle. I don’t even understand how he survived this. I’ve seen wrecks like this multiple times and people don’t live through this trauma,” Aaron said. 

Nine months later, Colton’s still partially paralyzed from the waist down and living a new normal on four wheels. Instead of going to sports practice after school, Colton spends his afternoons at Guidry Physical Therapy in Surprise. 

“He’s pretty strong from the waist up,” Kyle Guidry, Colton’s physical therapist, said. 

Guidry works with Colton on regaining physical strength along with rehabbing his legs and back and working on muscle memory.

“When we first started this – even 20 pounds – he couldn’t push up,” Guidry said while working with Colton at the leg press machine.   

Colton knows he has a long road ahead of him, but he’s come a long way especially over the last few months.

“His right leg is obviously stronger than his left leg with the trauma to his left leg, but his left leg now is probably to where his right leg was when we started,” Guidry said. 

Colton’s goal is to walk across the stage at his high school graduation in the spring. 

“I have no doubt he will walk again. When that will be or what the circumstances will be – we don’t know, but I do know he won’t ever give up,” Aaron said. 

In the end, Colton knows the biggest steps he’s made this year have nothing to do with his mobility. 

“Just my outlook on life, it’s a lot different,” Colton said as he wiped a tear from his face. 

This 6-foot, 4-inch teenager has learned you don’t have to stand tall to be larger than life. 

“I don’t think legs are what define people. I think it definitely made me see that it’s your personality and the way you treat people,” Colton said. 

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Kylee CruzArizona native Kylee Cruz joined CBS 5 News as a reporter in August 2014. You can catch her reporting every morning on CBS 5's "Wake Up Arizona!" and 3TV's "Good Morning! Arizona." She's also a fill-in weather anchor.

Click to learn more about Kylee.

Kylee Cruz

Before working in Phoenix, Kylee spent three years reporting for KXLY in Spokane, WA During her time in the Inland Northwest, Kylee reported on a wide variety of topics from winter snowstorms to summer wildfires, and regularly filled in on the anchor desk. Kylee grew up in Yuma and graduated summa cum laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. While in college, Kylee covered her first big story in Tucson when Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot. She was selected as the Cronkite School’s Outstanding Graduate and was even the university’s Homecoming Queen her senior year. Growing up, Kylee always knew she wanted to be a reporter. When she was just 6, her neighbor started calling her "Cub Reporter" because she asked so many questions. That curiosity has only grown over the years! When Kylee’s not reporting, she loves traveling, home decorating and trying out unique restaurants. She’s a bit of a foodie! Kylee’s always looking for a good story. If you have an idea, email her at kylee.cruz@cbs5az.com.

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