ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — More than a year has passed since popular Escondido restaurant owner Kaitlin "Rosie" Pilsbury was involved in a near-death hit-and-run crash.
On Dec. 21, 2019, Pilsbury, 34, was riding her motorcycle in Vista when she was hit head-on by a driver in an SUV, who fled the scene. Pilsbury was in a non-responsive coma for 12 days. Even after she opened her eyes, she did not remember anyone, including her own mother. But she did not give up.
"They say 'prayers don't work,' Well, don't believe it because they do. She is a miracle!" mother Marie Pilsbury said, hugging her daughter.
Her mother said it was truly a miracle, considering Pilsbury sustained a traumatic brain injury and multiple broken bones. But Pilsbury is now alive and thriving.
"I can't complain, and if I could, I wouldn't," Pilsbury smiled.
The world first met Pilsbury earlier in 2019, when she was featured on the Food Network's "Restaurant Impossible." The show gave her Rosie the Riveter-themed restaurant, Rosie's Cafe in Escondido, a makeover. But just months after the episode aired, the crash happened.
"It's been a journey, to say the least," Pilsbury said.
Pilsbury has since gone through five surgeries and countless physical, speech, and occupational therapy appointments. Slowly she regained her memory and movement, always inspired by her family, friends, and her hero, Rosie the Riveter. Doctors say it has been an amazing road to recovery. Last March, Pilsbury graduated from Sharp Hospital's outpatient program. But not everything survived.
During her absence, the community rallied to save Rosie's Cafe. "Restaurant Impossible" host, Robert Irvine, held an outdoor carnival in Escondido last year, where all proceeds went to Pilsbury's medical expenses. But with her condition and the pandemic, her beloved restaurant shut its doors for good last June.
"It was an amazing chapter, and I'm grateful that I had it," Pilsbury cried.
Despite her loss, Pilsbury continues to be resilient. Last October, she began Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) courses, spending four days a week to re-learns life skills.
"I don't want to give up," Pilsbury said proudly. "I'm never gonna give up. Never. So this is teaching me how to be me, the new me, but confidently."
Pilsbury was once left for dead on the side of the road. But now, not only is she surviving, she is thriving. She said she is eternally grateful for everyone who cheered her on and hopes her story inspires others through tough times.
"Every step I take, it's not just for me," Pilsbury said. "It's just for all of that good energy and positivity to just be radiated for everyone around the world."
In March, Pilsbury will take part in this year's San Diego Brain Injury Foundation's Survive Headstrong Zoom event, which raises funds, referrals, and education about brain injuries. Pilsbury's group, TEAM ABI, supports SDBIF or ABI programs. Click here to donate.
On Jan. 4, 2021, the San Diego Sheriff's Department announced that they arrested 35-year-old Rene Solorio on felony hit-and-run charges related to the crash.