In 2011, Xitclalli "Chilli" Vasquez, 9, went to the mall with her sister when their car collided head-on with that of a car driven by a drunk driver. Last week, Vasquez was able to confront the man who left her paralyzed from the chest down and read from a letter that left the entire court in tears.
"I don't remember the first several days," Vasquez said. "I could not talk, so I had to use my thumb to answer yes or no. While I was in UCLA I had very bad moments. They take xrays of me every day. Feed me through by gbutton [sic]. I had tubes through my mouth and nose."
Vasquez personally wrote the letter as a way of expressing herself and contributing to the trial. The drunk driver, Jeremy Solis, pleaded guilty to two counts of intoxication assault and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
"There were times that I would cry and cry … in therapy they showed me how to lift myself and dress myself. But right now it's still very hard. My mom does a lot for me but I try myself. There are days that I cry cause I can't do what I used to. Well, I could keep going but my hand is getting tired," Vasquez concluded.
"I would like you to meet me and my family … there are days that are bad because I have a hard time getting around. Look at what I said and the words I said and tell me how I look and feel. How do you feel today? Do you remember July 9th?" she asked.
Vasquez has hopes of walking again, she told ABC News, and will continue to write to Solis while he is in prison. She also wants to be a doctor and help others, especially after all that she has already been through.
"She is a survivor," Vasquez's mother, Arabella, told ABC News. "Many people die because of drunk driving accidents but Chilli made it alive and we all have faith she will walk again someday."
Solis will be eligible for parole in five years.