AUSTIN, TEXAS (KXAN) – University of Texas soccer player Kylie Doniak should have walked across the stage to receive her diploma in 2012. But on February 3, 2012, she was hit by a convicted drunk driver while walking downtown, pausing her future plans.
“We were all at home and we got that phone call at (midnight),” David Doniak, Kylie’s father, said. “It was from Brackenridge, the hospital, called us and said ‘Your daughter got hit by a drunk driver.’ So that was hard, very hard.”
Kylie was in a coma for six weeks after the crash that nearly took her life. Shortly after, she was well enough to return to California to continue medical treatments.
“She had to learn how to walk again, talk again,” David Doniak said. “You’re like, ‘I don’t think she’ll ever graduate.’ But for her to do it is just unbelievable.”
More than two years after the crash, she returned to the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium, walking onto the field she played on for four years. But this time, she walked across the field to take graduation pictures.
“I love it still and being out there I’m like, ‘Aw, that’s where I used to do this drill and shoot it right there.’ I love it still. It’s such a nice field,” Kylie said.
Despite many challenges, she knew she’d walk across the stage.
“I knew I was going to only ’cause I’m very stubborn and I’m not going to ever change that but I didn’t know when,” Kylie said.
Kylie says she has kept in contact with her teammates, including those who graduated.
“They’re making my weekend fun and all about me which sounds so greedy but they’re making it like that because they are just so excited to have me and just give me the experience I didn’t think I was going to get,” Kylie said.
Before the accident Kylie worked with kids at an Austin hospital, where she also helped coordinate volunteers. As she enters the professional world, she hopes to do something similar.
“I would want to work with kids whether in a hospital or I’m applying to do something in California with a school just to get around kids more,” Kylie said.
As for the man who hit Kylie, Nicholas Colunga was convicted in August 2013 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Kylie says she doesn’t have a problem with forgiving him.
‘I’ve never had the problem with forgiveness,” Kylie said. “He did what he did. I’ve been reading a million Bible verses that tells you to forgive. God tells you to forgive.”
Throughout her recovery, Kylie’s family chronicled her successes in a CaringBridge blog.