Woman teams up with man who nearly killed her in crash for blood drive

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A Fort Collins woman is teaming up with a man who almost killed her in a car accident to encourage people to give blood in one of the most dire donation times of the year.
 
Linda Maher holds a scrapbook of her medical journey close. 
 
“You don’t want to forget because it just makes you more grateful to be alive,” said Maher.
 
It documents her brave battle.
 
It’s a battle back from near death after being hit by a distracted driver at an intersection in Fort Collins.
 
“My pelvis, my bladder, my sternum, my ribs, my kidneys, my intestines… almost everything was shattered,” said Maher.
 
Tony Gonzalez was that distracted driver.
 
He was on his way to work driving while messing with the radio when he ran a red light and hit Linda on his 24th birthday.
 
“It happened so fast I didn’t have much reaction time at all,” said Gonzalez.
 
You can imagine his surprise when he got a letter from Linda.
 
“She sent me a letter while I was in sentencing and she told me she wanted me to succeed in life, and she wanted the best for me. And I wouldn’t expect that from a person I just ruined their life or changed their life completely,” said Gonzalez.
 
Now they’re together trying to help others after surgeons said it's a miracle Linda’s even alive.
 
“That’s what made me realize that I’m here for a reason and I need to meet this young man,” said Maher.
 
She received 22 units of lifesaving blood while in a medically induced coma.
 
As soon as she woke up, she decided to host a blood drive to honor her donors and remind people of the importance.
 
She partnered with UCHealth for a blood drive in Fort Collins Tuesday.
 
At Maher’s request, Gonzalez is doing presentations on distracted driving awareness and blood donation as part of his community service. 
 
“It’s part of my community service, but I’m also doing it because I want to,” said Gonzalez.
 
He says he’s now focusing on righting his wrong, and his friendship with Linda.
 
“It meant a lot that he was willing to do this because he could have said no, and I would have been ok with that as well, but there was just something that made me want to meet him,” said Gonzalez.

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