San Antonio retired veteran survives 3 near-death experiences

Jorge Avalos a part of 'We Will Not Be Tamed' campaign

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SAN ANTONIO – Retired Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Avalos knows a little about perseverance. 

In 2007, during his deployment in Iraq, his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. The blast left him with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, but he survived.

Four years later, he would again suffer injuries during a skydiving demonstration. At 75 feet from the ground, a crosswind hit his canopy, causing the left side to collapse.

"It kept the right side inflated but made me do a hook turn into the ground, and I hit the ground at 45 miles per hour," Avalos said. 

His left foot was crushed and his leg was partially amputated — doctors were able to save his leg, He also broke his back, causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down.

"I was kept alive and knew I needed to do something about it instead of just sitting down and feeling sorry for myself," Avalos said.

Despite doctors telling him he would never walk again, 2 1/2 months later, with the aid of crutches, Avalos walked out of the hospital.

During his recovery, Avalos used cycling as a form of therapy, but it soon turned into a passion when he started to compete.

"I say a month and a half after I got on the bike, I did a 500-mile bike ride," Avalos said.

Twenty-two months later, while training for the Wounded Warrior Games, his faith would be tested again.

"I was just doing a 40-mile training ride, and 2 miles away from my home, I got hit from behind by a pickup truck," Avalos said.

The driver of the truck was texting while driving and hit Avalos head-on.

Avalos' left leg was broken again, his ankle was shattered, several ribs were broken, he had three fractured thoracic vertebrae and, eventually, he lost a kidney. 

It didn't take Avalos long to recover again. He was back on a bike just two months later.

"For me, this (is) my way of enjoying life," Avalos said.

Avalos continued to train and compete across the world and was asked to join Team 43, which is headed by former President George W. Bush.

Avalos' inspiring story is why the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation has named him one of nine ambassadors of the "We Will Not Be Tamed" campaign.

"The program is designed to make Texans aware of the vast beauty of our state and to try to conserve the wild things and the wild places of this wonderful state and encouraging all Texans to get involved," Avalos said.

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.