May 17, 2013

Dalton team dedicates season to classmate holding onto life

By Rachel Brown and Devin Golden and

— “He’s fighting.”

Those are the best words close friend Bianca Hernandez could think of to describe the condition of a Dalton High School student who was critically injured in a motorcycle wreck on May 9 while coming home from work.

Luis Cervantes was supposed to graduate with his class next Friday, said Hernandez, who spoke on behalf of the family. For now, though, family members just want him to get well. He remained in critical condition at Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga as of Thursday night, suffering from lung damage and several broken bones.

His situation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The members of Dalton High School’s undefeated boys soccer team, which is scheduled to play for the state championship tonight at 7:30 in Carrollton against Southeast Whitfield, dedicated the rest of their season to Cervantes following the wreck. Cervantes isn’t a member of the team, but he is friends with several of the players and plays on local Christian league and recreational league soccer teams.

“We wanted to dedicate all the rest of the games to him,” said sophomore Eder Mora. “We also wanted to honor him and have everyone pray for him to get better.”

According to friends and 911 records, Cervantes was driving from his job at a local pizza restaurant to deposit his check in a bank at around 10 p.m. when the wreck occurred. He crashed on Waugh Street near Krystal after an animal or something in the road apparently distracted him or caused him to swerve, and he lost control of the motorcycle and hit a tree.

After practice last Friday, Dalton’s soccer team went to the hospital to visit him, said coach Matt Cheaves.

Senior Ryan Czyz said team members are wearing wrist bands with Cervantes’ initials engraved on them when they play.

“Pretty much everyone on the team is friends with him, because he used to play soccer in the San Jose recreation league (in Dalton),” Czyz said. “They talked to him when he was awake that one time. When his mom told him when he was awake that we all came to visit him, he started crying.”

Hernandez said the family has been very thankful for the support from everyone. Supporters at Dalton High School are selling T-shirts through today to raise money to help with medical expenses, she said.

Czyz said doctors earlier this week woke Cervantes from a coma to see if he could respond to them.

“After 10 minutes, his lungs stopped, and they had to rush him into emergency surgery,” Czyz said. “He’s already off surgery, and he’s asleep. So (the doctors) said they are going to keep him asleep for five to seven days.”

Junior Salvador Rodriguez said Cervantes has been a close friend to everyone, especially the seniors on the team.

“In the games we’ve been winning, it has just been for him,” Rodriguez said. “We’re trying to win state for him ... It feels like a 12th man out there with Luis.”