LONG ISLAND - Audrina Crocitto remembers how the Farmingdale High School bus tragedy started, but not how it ended.
"It kinda swerved and swerved again," she said. "Then I blacked out."
The 15-year-old freshman was on the bus bound for band camp last month when it careened off I-84 before rolling down an embankment.
Gina Pellettiere, the school’s band director and retired teacher Beatrice Ferrari were killed in the crash. Audrina was one of more than 40 hurt. Her injuries are among the most severe. She was airlifted to Cohen Children’s Medical Center where she had a 5-hour spinal fusion surgery.
"We had to put screws and rods in to stabilize her spine and we also did a laminectomy to remove some of the bone because it was bleeding," said Dr. Shaun Rogers, her neurosurgeon and Cohen Children’s Medical Center.
On Wednesday she returned to the hospital where she spent ten days. Through tears, she and her mom, Kristi thanked her doctor and the flight team that helped save her life.
Doctors who are also treating several of Audrina’s friends who were also on the bus will follow up with her in a few weeks. Based on her progress, she could be cleared for activities in about six months, and hopefully playing the clarinet even sooner.
"I wanted to give up but I got through it," she said. "I have to be honest I’m here and will come back even stronger."
Audrina, despite her injuries, helped calm her friends after the crash. She hopes to one day become an EMT and nurse.
"I want to make sure to help any way I can," she said.
It’s a family tradition and just one way to give back after being given a second chance.