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High school senior involved in deadly Florida crash will walk in graduation ceremony

Karissa Rutherford made a promise to her late Grandma Donna that she would walk at her graduation. Despite her serious injuries, she is finding a way.

MULBERRY, Fla. — Bartow High School senior Karissa Rutherford was on her way to school early Tuesday morning on May 9, two weeks away from graduation, when she was involved in a deadly car crash.

The crash left her seriously injured and her car totaled. 

"I'm just here. I just genuinely exist," said Karissa, when asked about how she was holding up following the crash.

The teen is back home now after spending two days at Tampa General Hospital, where she received treatment for several broken bones. 

In the aftermath, she is stoic.

"I don't really think about it too much, it's just kind of something that happened," Karissa said. 

However, her father, Christopher Rutherford won't forget the scene of the crash any time soon, or how much worse it could have been for his daughter.  

"It was bad, but she was breathing," Christopher said. "You take good days and bad days and I guess what I mean by that is I got better news than two other parents."

Now, with a broken leg in a boot and crutches on hand, Karissa is looking forward to the future. She plans to cross the graduation stage next week with some help from her twin brother, Chris.

"My brother is supposed to put me in a wheelchair to get up on the stage and then I'll walk across," Karissa explained. 

In doing so, she is fulfilling a promise to her late Grandmother Donna.  

"She made a promise four years ago to her grandmother. She's going to cross the stage," her father, Christopher, said. "Her grandmother passed and that was the last thing she said, 'I wish I could be there to see it.'" 

Karissa said she saved money for three years in order to buy her truck, which was totaled in the crash.  

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay medical bills and get Karissa a new truck. If you'd like to help the family, click here.

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