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Alpine nursing student severely injured after pushing disabled car off I-8

Alpine nursing student severely injured after pushing disabled car off I-8
Posted at 5:27 PM, Feb 20, 2023

ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) - The life of an East County nursing student was changed forever as he stood outside his disabled car on Interstate 8 early Friday morning.

“Always been a tough individual," Griffin Rackley said. "He's a fighter.”

Jimmy Johnson, 26, is just beginning a long road to recovery after a drive home turned nightmare.

Just before 1 a.m., Johnson, his girlfriend and his roommate were driving to their Alpine home on the I-8.

“His car broke down. Just died. He couldn't creep it to the shoulder,” Rackley, Johnson’s best friend since 2nd grade, said.

Rackley says Johnson's 202 Cadillac Eldorado broke down right near Tavern Road, forcing Johnson and his roommate to push it to the shoulder.

According to Johnson, he had just finished a call for help and was standing on the shoulder with the other two when he saw the semi-truck coming right at him.

“Hit him pretty dead on. He just remembers seeing the truck coming and then being in front of the car,” Rackley said.

Johnson's roommate and girlfriend franticly tied a tourniquet before paramedics arrived.

“His focus was staying awake and not looking down,” Rackley said.

At the hospital, tests would reveal the severity of the injuries: a fractured spine, pelvis, and right ankle. His left leg had to be amputated below the knee.

A second surgery Monday will reveal more.

“They may have to amputate above the knee,” Rackley said.

Despite the injuries, Rackley says the Santana High grad and a first-year nursing student has remained positive, focusing on his recovery.

“I'm honestly amazed at how he's handling it. I couldn't have handled it this way,” Rackley said.

As for Johnson's dreams of becoming a nurse, Rackley said there is ‘no chance’ this will put an end to them.

“Being in the hospital and seeing that care has been kind of inspiring for him. He's always liked to help people. This is just going to encourage him in that dream,” said Rackley.

The CHP says the driver of the truck didn't leave the scene, and the investigation is ongoing.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help Johnson with medical and other expenses.