ENID, Okla. — April 25
“No one I know is tougher than you.” — Dylan Hatchel, Aguirre’s teammate
Car Aguirre looks strange confined to a wheelchair.
The story of how the newly-minted Hennessey grad got there is told loosely through a digital jigsaw puzzle — an accident, a near-tragedy, an outpouring of support, a recovery, all expressed in Facebook posts and internet traffic.
Aguirre, still well-built from years on football fields and in weight rooms, seems mostly unwavered by his predicament, punctuating every other sentence with a nervous laugh. Most of his features haven’t changed. Aguirre’s face is still framed by a trademark wirey beard and long black locks, but his left eyelid now is accented with red scars that extend from behind his hair like tree branches. His nose is flecked with more scar tissue, and behind his bangs is another long gash on his forehead.
The topical damage is minimal compared to the scattered state of his insides.
Aguirre, usually the strongest presence in the room in any sense, now sits on the wrong end of the most challenging five months of his life.
In bad luck and in life, Aguirre isn’t used to doing things halfway.
“Go big or go home,” he said.
“One of the Doctors in the ER told him that it was a miracle that he was alive.” — Brad Mendenhall, Aguirre’s pastor
He was almost done.
It had been five months after his right knee fell apart in his final high school game. Aguirre’s last play as a Hennessey Eagle was a 32-yard reception in a 56-21 playoff win against Washington, but the play, and his career, ended when the ensuing tackle tore his ACL, PCL, MCL, meniscus and patellar tendon.
The injury all but dashed his hopes of a collegiate football career, perhaps at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where a brother coaches, but at least the sad story of Aguirre’s knee was almost over. On April 10, the morning after one of a handful of springtime winter storms hit Enid, Aguirre was driving to his last knee appointment.
At 7:49 a.m., a vehicle traveling north near the 3400 block of South Oakwood lost control and swerved off the road, then into Aguirre’s southbound lane. His 2011 Nissan Maxima struck the 2012 Dodge Ram at over 50 mph.
“I saw the guy run off the road,” Aguirre said. “His truck went across the lanes really fast. I had no time to even stop, to do anything. All I remember was hitting it, and a loud crash, and I was out.”
The news spread quickly, if not accurately.
Aguirre was fine. Aguirre was hurt. He was in a fender-bender. He was ejected through the windshield. It was nothing. He might be dead.
“It was shocking, because something like that happens, and you don’t know what to believe and what not to believe,” said Rick Luetjen, Aguirre’s football coach. “It was just a mess trying to find out what happened.”
Among the last to hear was Aguirre’s mother, Tammy Plaster, who was waiting for her son to pick her up so the two could ride together to Kingfisher for his appointment.
She called his cell phone at 8:25 a.m., then again at 8:28. She texted, “Son, where are you?!”
Finally, she received a call from her his phone.
“This is the Enid Police Department,” the voice on the other end said. “Your son was in an accident.”