NC teen returns to basketball court 6 months after serious crash


HAMPSTEAD, N.C. (WECT) — Rachel Kapiko is playing for the Topsail High School girls basketball team six months after being seriously injured in a car accident.

The 16-year-old’s car was hit by another car that ran a red light on U.S. Highway 17. Investigators say the driver of the other car was impaired at the time of the crash.

Kapiko said she doesn’t remember the accident, but she remembers being scared when she woke up.

“People have shown me pictures of me right when I woke up,” Kapiko said. “I don’t even recognize that person because it is so almost graphic. There’s glass still in my face, glass still in my hair, there’s blood all down my face, and so I got really lucky to only have a few scars.”

Kapiko fractured her pelvis, sustained a concussion, bruised a lung, and had stitches in her face and head.

At the time of the accident, Doctors told Kapiko she wouldn’t be able to walk normally for up to 10 weeks.

Kapiko said the thought of not playing sports was hard.

“It was really devastating honestly, and I really wanted to help my team,” Kapiko said. “Some of my best friends are seniors, and I didn’t get to play their senior season.”

It took several weeks of healing and intensive physical therapy before doctors cleared Kapiko to play again.

“I remember crying as soon as he told me you can walk,” Kapiko said. “I remember the moment my feet hit the ground, I was like ‘wow this is one of the greatest things’.”

Now, the two-sport athlete is back on the court with the teammates she credits with helping her recover.

She posted on Facebook Thursday night about her journey back to playing sports six months after the accident.

Rachel’s father Jay Kapiko wasn’t surprised she made it back to practice so quickly.

“She does everything 100 percent, and she’s not soft,” he said.

Rachel is now looking forward to her senior season. She said she doesn’t hold any grudges against the woman that hit her, but she does have questions.

“I just want to know what was going through your head when you did this because you ruined my life for a solid six months,” Rachel said.

Kapiko’s father hopes the other driver learns a lesson from the accident.

“I really wish she could look at the pictures that we have of her in the hospital, and she could see that, and see my daughter,” Jay said.

Kapiko wants anyone in a similar situation to know they can get through it with the help of others.

“Stay strong, keep your friends, and definitely talk to somebody because eventually it’s all going to come crashing down on you, and you’ll want somebody to talk to.”Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.

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