MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The victim of a DWI crash has a message for those looking to celebrate over the holidays.

In 2007, a drunk driver hit Greg Torell near his Cambridge home. He was returning home from the hospital after visiting his newborn granddaughter.

Doctors told Torell he was lucky to survive, but the injuries he sustained have forever prevented him from doing the things he loves to do.

“I’ve hunted pheasants from North Dakota down to Kansas, and it’s an awesome sport,” Torell said.

With his faithful dog Ben at his side, life was good for Torell. Another passion was his Harley, which is what he was riding on a June day in 2007 when he heard his daughter had gone into labor.

Ellie would be Torell’s first grandchild.

“They’ve even got a picture of me holding my granddaughter, and it’s the only picture I’ve got of me and her where I’m intact,” Torell said.

Twenty minutes after that picture was taken, Torell was riding north on Highway 47.

He was less than a quarter mile from his home when a 21-year-old drunk driver crossed the center line and changed Greg’s life forever.

“I was broadsided, and it just basically took my arm and leg off,” Torell said. “They had to revive me two, three times on the way to North Memorial. When they got me down there, there wasn’t a shot glass full of blood left in me.”

Torell was put into a medically-induced coma. He had more than a dozen surgeries and spent six weeks in intensive care. But the accident took far more than his left arm and leg. It also took his sight.

“Not only not being able to see, but can’t see the grandchildren,” Torell said. “I’ve seen her when she was just hours old and it’s the only time I’ve ever seen her.”

The driver who hit Torell got six months in jail, but Torell feels like he got the life sentence.

His home has been modified to fit his needs and he’s learned to forgive, but he wants what happened to him to be a warning to others.

“She’s told me she’s sorry and I really believe she is, that it’s coming from the heart,” he said. “But the bottom line is she’s never as sorry as I am waking up every morning like this.”

Torell says he thanks everyone who helped him at the accident scene, including his wife who had been following him home and saw what happened. He also wants to thank the doctors that saved his life.

His main message during the holidays is simple: do whatever it takes to stay safe and don’t drink and drive.

John Lauritsen

Comments