WATCH: Crash survivor thanks first responders

Posted at 5:19 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 18:56:13-04

A drunk driver slammed into him, now a crash survivor is thanking those who saved him.

With a little help, Jeff Kudlacik is taking his first steps without a walker, a monumental step forward in his recovery.

"I was pretty shocked, you look down you're in a hospital gown and you're only 130 pounds," he said. 

The crash last march split Kudlacik's car in half, first responders at the scene didn't think he'd make it.

"It's stressful for the EMS team to come on to a situation like that and wonder 'is he going to make it? Are we going to get him alive to the hospital in time?'" Dr. Molly Black, the Orthopedic Trauma Director at Overland Park Regional Medical Center said. 

Kudlacik showed up at the hospital with his legs essentially backwards.

The prognosis wasn't good.

"There was a choice, do we stop all the bleeding save his life? Or do we try to do both--save his and try to save his function, his legs," Dr. Daniel Farrell at Overland Park Regional Medical Center said. 

After two blood transfusions, Kudlacik spent more than two months in the hospital. 

"No matter how hard life is and trust me there were times I wanted to cry and I just wanted to be done with life," he said. "I looked at my parents and the people who were saving me and they had big smiles on their faces I thought I could at least have a smile on mine."

And there were more smiles Tuesday, as part of EMS week, Kudlacik met and expressed his appreciation to the team who saved his life.

"I knew with his spirit he would do very well I didn't realize I would see him walk," Black said.

Kudlacik is now studying to become a doctor.

"It makes everything worth it. Doing what they did, I’m going to make sure my life is worth it now," he said. 

Doctors said Kudlacik has two years left in his recovery.



Andres Gutierrez can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter: 

Follow @AFGutierrez

Connect on Facebook: