Surprise teen walks the line at high school graduation following horrific car crash

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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)
The crash happened in March of 2017 when the back left tire blew on Colton's Toyota 4Runner. (Source: Tara McMurdie) The crash happened in March of 2017 when the back left tire blew on Colton's Toyota 4Runner. (Source: Tara McMurdie)
Colton puts on his cap and gown at his home before heading off to his Imagine Prep Surprise graduation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Colton puts on his cap and gown at his home before heading off to his Imagine Prep Surprise graduation. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Thousands of Valley teens just graduated from high school including an 18-year-old who overcame all odds to walk the line.

Colton McMurdie never thought he would spend his senior year in a wheelchair.

“It’s been quite the emotional rollercoaster this last year,” Tara McMurdie, Colton’s mom, said.

14 months ago, a horrific car crash left Colton partially paralyzed from the waist down.

“He was coming back from Lake Pleasant with some friends, he had lost control after he had a tire blow out on his truck,” Aaron McMuride, Colton's dad, said.

Colton was driving home on 211th Avenue and Joy Ranch Road in Wittmann on March 25th, 2017 when his back left tire blew. Colton’s Toyota 4Runner flipped 10 times during the crash. He was ejected out of his SUV going about 70 miles an hour.

Colton spent two months at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and went through nearly a dozen surgeries during that time.

[READ MORE: Teen hopes to walk again after horrific car accident in Wittmann]

“It’s a miraculous story, the amount of trauma he received is incredible,” Aaron said.

During a typical week, Colton spends five days in physical therapy at Guidry Physical Therapy in Surprise. He works non-stop to regain physical strength and confidence. Colton has been confined to a wheelchair ever since the accident, but he made it his goal to walk across the stage at his graduation from Imagine Prep in Surprise.

“When they say it is a marathon not a sprint, it really is and you got to be in it for the long haul,” Colton said. 

After months of therapy and practicing, Colton made it to his graduation day, the biggest test of his high school career.

“I had a goal at the beginning of the year to walk across the stage so I’ll be doing that,” he said.

“The fact that he’s going to be walking across the stage to get that diploma means more to us than the diploma itself for sure,” Tara added.

As Colton gets ready at his house to leave for graduation, Tara is overcome with emotion.

“She’s already cried once,” he says.

Colton and Tara say “I love you” before he heads off to graduation.

“Does this need to be on the right side or the left?” he asks his friend.

As it gets closer to graduation time at CCV Surprise, nerves set in. Colton knows all eyes will be on him as he walks across the stage. His classmates haven’t seen him walk since before the accident.

As the names are called out, Colton’s ready for his big debut on two feet. 

“Can I come out?” he said.

The moment he’s practiced and worked hard for is finally here.

“Colton McMurdie,” the announcer calls out.

Colton gets out of his wheelchair, grabs his walker and walks across the stage to receive his diploma. Everyone in the crowd is on their feet while Colton smiles as he shakes hands with the school principal. 

Colton's family watches proudly from the middle of the church with tears rolling down their faces. 

“That was awesome,” Tara says.

After graduation ends, Tara is on a mission to reunite with Colton and give him a big hug.

“Mom, no more,” Colton says to Tara who still has tears in her eyes.

Colton’s parents and loving sisters are still on such a high from the ceremony. They are so proud of their new graduate and the hard work and determination he's shown since his accident.

“My heart is just like filled to capacity. I really feel like my heart could burst, that was unbelievable,” Tara says.

As the sun sets on this special night, Colton’s big moment might be over but the memories inside the church will stay with him and his family forever.

“Good, really good, heartwarming experience for me and everybody,” Colton says.

Colton heads off to auctioneer school this summer. Once he's done, he'll be a full-time auctioneer. 

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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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.

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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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