At 18mo she was run over by drunk driver, 10 years later—parents weren’t sure she would be like this

June 13, 2018 5:11 pm Last Updated: June 13, 2018 5:11 pm

Babies are precious and adorable, yet they’re also incredibly fragile. An accident that might only hurt an adult a bit could spell death for a baby.

When Ava Lopez was just 18 months old, she got run over by a drunk driver—an incident even most adults wouldn’t survive. Yet, since then, she’s come a long long way.

When young Ava Lopez was in the yard with her mom and sister, she was run over by a drunk driver.

(Facebook/Robert Price TV/Screenshot)

It was April 23, 2009, when the drunk driver hit Ava.

“It feels like it was yesterday,” her mother, Traci Lopez, told News 4 San Antonio. “I remember it very clearly.”

Ava was in the front yard picking up grass clippings with her mom and older sister when it happened. A Mercedes convertible came out of nowhere. The driver, under the influence of Ambien and drunk on wine, hopped the curb and continue going.

All three were hit, but Ava, nearly dead, had to be flown to University Hospital in San Antonio for head trauma.

“They pretty much told us the night of the accident that she wouldn’t survive,” Traci said.

After two weeks in a coma, Ava made it out alive, though her recovery was lengthy.

(Facebook/Robert Price TV/Screenshot)

“And after that, when she came out of the coma, she was doing nothing,” said Traci.

Ava had to relearn everything: how to walk, talk, swallow, and so on. She spent years recovering.

During that time, the woman who ran Ava over plead guilty to intoxication assault as well as failure to stop and help. At her formal sentencing in 2012, she was given only six months in jail and 10 years probation.

Traci was upset with this decision, believing the court understated the impact of the culprit’s actions. At this point, Ava was attending therapy multiple times a day and being made fun of by her fellow kids for poor balance and vision.

“People may look at her and say, ‘Wow, that girl’s doing great.’ But Ava should be doing so much more,” Traci told mySA at the time. “Ava should have a normal childhood. We will never, ever know what her potential would have been.”

Traci decided to channel her energy into something positive in honor of Ava: creating a charity called Ava’s Wish.

Traci started a charity. Now, both “Ava’s Wish” and its namesake are healthier than ever.

(Facebook/Robert Price TV/Screenshot)

As Ava was recovering, Traci noticed that other kids weren’t receiving the same level of support she was. That’s what prompted her to start Ava’s Wish, an organization dedicated to providing resources to the families of children with head trauma and related disorders.

In 2018, the charity has remained strong with plans to collaborate with the regional health system to open up a pediatric unit in Ava’s name.

The girl is doing fantastic. Now 10 years old, this spunky fourth grader is full of personality!

“I’m not the shy one,” Ava told News 4. “I can tell you that one thing for certain!”

She’s friendly, outgoing, and has a great sense of humor. When asked if she was sad that school was almost over, she let out a sarcastic overly-dramatic cry before clarifying with her local news she was joking.

“Everybody just looks at her like she’s a miracle,” said Traci. “I never ever imagined she would be where she is today.”

The biggest challenge she faces now is epilepsy which she was diagnosed with in 2016. Still, her mother’s confident.

“She has such a fighting spirit,” Traci said. “And she has been through so much. For her being 10 years old, she’s been through more than what most people go through in probably their entire lives, and she always has a positive attitude.”

Ava's Wish – 9 Years Later

This is a truly inspiring story I had the pleasure of putting together for tonight's newscast. On April 23rd, 2009, Ava Lopez was just 18 months old when she was run over in her front yard by a drunk driver. The early prognosis was grim, but Ava pulled through and relearned how to walk and talk. Now she's 10 & doing great! I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with Ava for this story.

Posted by Robert Price TV on Friday, May 4, 2018