SURRY COUNTY, N.C. – Junior Gonzalez has not been back to school since he was nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver at a Surry County bus stop two weeks ago on February 25.
“I saw the vehicle like, going from left to right in the middle of the lane, coming through the grass,” Gonzalez said. “I see the girl screaming like ‘run out of the way!’”
With the vehicle bearing down on him, he reacted – not to save himself – but to save another.
“So I pushed the girl out of the way, and the car just came at me, for me out of nowhere,” Gonzalez recalled.
Gonzalez was struck by the vehicle, which Dobson police believe is a 2011 or newer white Jeep Grand Cherokee. He told FOX8 his body was sent into the stop sign at the bus stop, which was located on East Atkins Street near the Tlaquepaque Mexican Grille, rendering him unconscious.
“When I realized I was dreaming, I woke up and I started panicking,” he said. “I remember, I got up and I couldn’t breathe.”
After he was transported to the hospital, Gonzalez’s story spread nationally, and he gained recognition as a hero for his actions.
“Risking my life to save another one,” he said.
In days following, people from Surry County, and across the country, began thinking of ways they could help Gonzalez.
“Everyone knows that he’s a hero, and that inspires people,” said his friend and classmate, Ixcela Hernandez.
Hernandez and other Surry Central High School students have been selling T-shirts in an effort to raise money for Gonzalez. At this time, they have gathered upwards of $600.
“We just want him to know how much we all care, and support him,” Hernandez said.
Dobson Elementary School “Colored the School Red,” raising $1,200 for Gonzalez, and Central Middle School had a “Play for Junior Day,” where they raised another $1,400.
“I just want to tell them that I love them, all of them, as friends,” Gonzalez said, of the community.
However, his hometown community was not the only one wishing to show Gonzalez support. A group of fifth graders from San Gabriel, California, sent Gonzalez letters to let him know how his story impacted them.
“Dear Junior Gonzalez. You are a super hero, you saved a little girl’s life,” read one of the letters.
“I can’t believe you saved that girl’s life. It takes a true heart to do that kind of thing,” read another.
Gonzalez fought through tears to describe how he felt after receiving all that was given to him, both from his hometown and beyond.
Although he has missed two weeks of school, he has learned lessons many people will never fully understand.
“Be safe, because you never know when it’s [going to] be your last goodbye,” Gonzalez said. “It’s like my parents said, like I’m being reborn again.”
Dobson police tell FOX8 they have received numerous leads as to the identity of the driver who hit Gonzalez. At the time this article was written, they said the investigation was ongoing.