By Danielle McKinney & Rose Vega
City College President Michael Gutierrez has been on the road to recovery and remains optimistic since being released from the hospital Aug. 14.
“All things considered, I feel very blessed,” Gutierrez said Friday in his first phone interview since the accident.
He suffered a concussion, a lacerated liver, four compressed back fractures and 15 rib fractures in a four-car accident Monday, Aug.12.
Gutierrez was driving westbound on Highway 50 headed toward the City College Davis Center when he was hit from behind, although he said he doesn’t recall much of the accident.
“When I first started to wake up, I thought I was dreaming,” said Guiterrez, who added that he remembers hearing people saying that his car had been struck in a collision.
“I started taking inventory: ‘Do I have all my limbs? I think I do. Oh, my God, I have all my teeth,’” he recalled. “I could sense myself feeling short of breath and hurt on the chest area.”
Guiterrez said that his recovery has been slow but going well, and he has been encouraged by his doctors to start walking more.
“I was able to sit down in the morning and put on my socks by myself and my shoes by myself,” said Guiterrez, “which is a huge accomplishment to me to be able to do that.”
He said that while even simple things are difficult for him right now, he is grateful to be alive.
“Having the outpour[ing] of support, the well wishes, prayers, good vibes, all of that—there are times when I want to become really emotional and just so grateful, and it hurts [physically] when I feel that,” he said. “The feelings that I get of the love that I’ve been given… I really have no words for that.”
Gutierrez made a brief video appearance during convocation Friday. The campus community acknowledged his accident during convocation Friday, with speakers, among them Chancellor Brian King and acting President Albert Garcia, expressing their continued support for Gutierrez’s recovery. Fall semester classes begin Saturday, Aug. 24, with most students returning Monday, Aug. 26.
Guiterrez said he looks forward to returning to work and that the accident has reassured him about his purpose.
“I know doing what I do—working at community colleges, working so that our students are able to fulfill their opportunities and their goals—I know I’m doing the right thing in my life,” said Guiterrez. “And that’s what I want to do, and I’m more sure of that than ever before.”