It’s not always possible to make amends to those we hurt. But metal sculptor Jerry Diaz, 32, a T10-12 para, recently had the opportunity to tell the woman who ran him over that he’s OK, it wasn’t her fault, and it changed his life for the better. And he did so in front of a large sculpture he had recently sold to the city of Kissimmee, Florida.
“On April 12, 2011, I attempted suicide. I ran into traffic and jumped in front of a speeding car. I got hit and pretty much destroyed my body instantly,” Diaz said in an Oct. 24 Facebook post showing a photo of him with the woman who hit him. “It’s been over seven years since that day, and I’ve always wondered about how my selfish action impacted her life. But I had no information on her and I left it at that.”
Diaz rebuilt his life around chairskating, also known as WCMX, and a few years ago took up welding at the Mech-Tech Institute in Orlando, Florida, where he discovered his knack for metal sculpting. “I got bored and asked one of my teachers if I could take scraps and make something,” he says.
He made a skateboard, then a rose, and eventually sold his work at outdoor markets and local galleries. An admirer suggested he submit to the Kissimmee Main Street Experience, and his first large work, Dragonfly, was accepted. Building on that success, he sold a second sculpture to the city, entitled Breaking Free. Diaz is already working on his next big piece, modelled after a dream catcher. “I can’t draw, but I can make stuff look like I want in metal,” he says. “It’s like playing with Legos.”