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Utah teen returns home two months after she was paralyzed by drunk driver

Posted at 10:16 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 00:26:36-04

SYRACUSE, Utah — A Clearfield High School senior paralyzed by a drunk driver received a special welcome home, after spending two months in the hospital.

There is nothing like coming home, after spending time away.

Sarah Frei cried happy tears as she rode by hundreds of people who lined the street near her home in Syracuse Tuesday evening. The groups stretched down the street and around the corner for over a mile.

"We are here to help support her, welcome her home," said Diana Fassbinder, Sarah's cousin.

Diana and thousands of other people, some living around the world, have been following Sarah's journey. The 17-year old high school senior left home in July for a trip to Bear Lake with friends.

Sarah wouldn't make it back home at the end of the trip.

A drunk driver hit a car with four teenagers in Logan Canyon on July 30. Sarah was hurt the worst. Her family told Fox 13 Sarah was sedated for the first two weeks. Eventually she awoke and underwent 20 surgeries and hours of rehabilitation.

"Those kids all went through so much. And Sarah, especially," Diana said. "Her life has completely changed, because of that."

After two months in the hospital in Salt Lake, Sarah was ready to finally go home.

As people lined up, in the distance, two police vehicles with flashing lights began to drive down the street. They started their sirens.

The crowds began to cheer. Behind the patrol vehicles, Sarah's cheer team walked while performing a dance. Then behind them, a decorated UTV slowly approached.

In the backseat, a teary-eyed Sarah waved and smiled.

"We love you Sarah!" people yelled.

"For all of it to kind of combine into this moment of like, this is how many people were thinking about you and praying for you, is something really special," said Emily Craythorne, Sarah's sister.

Thoughts and prayers that up until now, Sarah mostly saw online and social media.

In that moment, she was experiencing it all in person-- hundreds of family, friends, her school. Several sports teams from Clearfield High School and just about every other high school in the area showed up.

Complete strangers who have never met her wore "Sarah Strong" T-shirts.

"It was just so overwhelming for how many people love Sarah," Emily said, getting choked up as she spoke. "And so many people holding signs like, 'We don't even know you, we're cheering for you!' It was just really special."

Even more special-- Sarah's cheer team performed a dance they choreographed just for her, along with other high school cheer teams.

The dance was set to Sarah's favorite song, "Home Sweet" by Russell Dickerson, which was fitting for the occasion.

As Sarah watched with tears, she turned to her mom and said, "I'm home."

Home, sweet home.