On a hot Saturday afternoon in July, 7-year-old Xitclalli Vásquez — friends and family call her Chilli — was on her way home from the mall after getting her hair cut and having a manicure. She wanted to look pretty for her birthday just three days away.
Meet Chilli Vásquez.
Life Turned Upside Down
A drunk driver in a stolen pickup speeding the wrong way down a busy Fort Worth street slammed head-on into her car. Jeremy Solis landed in jail for 10 years, and Chilli landed in a wheelchair.
When Arabella Vásquez arrived at the hospital, she wasn’t sure that her fourth child would even survive the terrible crash. Her little girl’s injuries were massive. But Arabella says Chilli is her miracle child, and after 105 days in the hospital, Chilli went home to her—and her family’s—new life.
Now her parents, brother, and sisters help take care of her.
A Child's Point of View
It’s not every day that a child confronts an offender in a courtroom. But Chilli is no ordinary child, and her touching four-page letter to the drunk driver who left her paralyzed reflects her strength and compassion. She worries whether the man who caused her life-altering crash misses his family. She wonders if he remembers the crash, and if he’s sorry. Chilli says it time and again: don’t drink. She says if you do drink, do not drive a car or truck. She reminds all who’ll listen that they don’t want to hurt anyone, and they don’t want to go to jail.
Looking to the Future
Arabella initially had to quit her job to be able to do all the extra things it takes to care for a disabled child. She says it’s not easy to look after Chilli and her four brothers and sisters. Some days Chilli is sad and depressed. Some days there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. There is no end to the medical bills, which exceeded $1.6 million during the first month Chilli was in the hospital.
Still, Arabella is proud of all that Chilli has accomplished since the crash. She laughs and plays like other children. She does well in school. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up so she can help others the way doctors have helped her.
Like Chilli, Arabella also dreams that one day her daughter will be able to walk again.