SC paramedic who lost leg crosses bridge in 9/11 Silent Walk

VIDEO: Lowcountry remembers fallen 15 years after 9/11
Source: Live 5
Source: Live 5
Smith lost her right leg in this ambulance crash in Florence on March 9. (Source: WMBF)
Smith lost her right leg in this ambulance crash in Florence on March 9. (Source: WMBF)

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - For first responders, the anniversary of the terror attacks on our country mean something a little different, but the common goal is about remembrance and never forgetting what happened 15 years ago.

Paramedic Tessie Smith has come so far in her recovery since a devastating ambulance crash earlier this year.

The crash sent Smith and Craig to the hospital, along with the driver of the pickup, who was later charged with DUI and driving on a suspended license, Florence officials confirmed.

The pickup truck driver and Craig had non-life threatening injuries, but Smith suffered serious and potentially life-threatening injuries and wound up losing her right leg.

She's always wanted to do the 9/11 Silent Walk to remember those killed in the terror attacks, and this year was her first time doing the event.

Using her new prosthetic leg, Smith walked as much as she could during the trek across the Cooper River.

Her family and close friends helped to push her, both in the event and in her overall recovery.

"Some days I don't want to get out of bed because I hurt, but I can either lay in the bed in hurt, or I can get up and accomplish something and hurt. I'm going to hurt period, so I can either lay there and do nothing, or do something... make a difference," Smith said.

Smith says she hopes one day when she's stronger that she will be able to walk the entirety of the bridge to remember the first responders killed in the terror attacks.

More than 1,500 people were expected to participate in this year's walk, including first responders and their families, along with friends and family of victims.

"We gather today to give honor to those who fell 15 years ago," Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said. "But we also give honor to those first responders who continue, every day in and day out, to give service and protection to our community."

Event organizer Tian Griffieth from the North Charleston Fire Department said the solemn event is about never forgetting the 343 first responders who were lost on 9/11 and the first responders who continue to be lost to cancers believed related to the terrorist attacks.

"We got high school kids learning about 9/11 from a historical perspective, you know? They weren't even born at that point," Griffieth said. "This is the Pearl Harbor of our lifetime."

Firefighters walked the bridge silently carrying their full gear, totaling between 60 to 80 pounds of gear, just as the first responders had to do as they approached the scene in the hopes of rescuing people trapped there.

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