Crash survivor talks about losing three friends in wreck

Speed and alcohol played a role in deadly accident

Crash survivor shares his story

PALM DESERT, Calif. - 22-year-old Javier Simental of Coachella will never forget  the early morning of December 29, 2012.  He survived an alcohol related single car accident in La Quinta on Avenue 52, east of Madision.

His three friends, were not as lucky.  The driver Michael Garcia and Orlando Diarte died at the scene, after Garcia lost control of the vehicle and slammed into the center median.   

Simental and Eric Ceballos were rushed to the hospital where Ceballos was later pronounced dead.

Following the wreck, Simental believes he had an out of body experience.
"It felt like a dream.  I was next to a light, next to a light, and I looked down and there was smoke -- smoke,  you could see the car in the palm trees," said Simental.

Fortunate to be alive -- Simental suffered fractures to both his legs, an arm and a toe, and spent a month recovering at Desert Regional Medical Center.

Simental admits, he and his three friends had shared a 40 ounce beer before the wreck and were traveling at 110 miles per hour.

The lone survivor -- he went into a deep depression.

"I had survivor's guilt.  I felt guilty for being the only one that survived," said Simental.

Over a year later, having fought through the depression thanks to the support of his friends and family, Simental is studying at COD to become a radiology technican.

He wants other people fighting depression to know it can be conquered.

"You know the world is hard, it's unforgiving, but you also have to look at the bright side of everything," he said.

An example -- the tragedy has led to a close friendship with fellow COD student Claudia Luna.  She and her boyfriend happened to be in the area of the wreck.

John Ochoa, who was working as an EMT at the time, was just getting off his shift at Valley Medical when he pulled up behind the crash, his wife Rachel told News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2. 

Luna and her boyfriend assisted Ochoa in cutting Simental loose from the seat belt that was choking him -- and got him out of the vehicle.
"It's a good feeling to know I saved at least one life and now today he [Javier] is one of my closest friends as well," said Luna.

A friend who hopes other young adults will learn from the deadly mistake he and his late friends made.

"If you're planning on drinking, don't drive.  It's not a good idea, it's not a good mixture," said Simental.


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