Fort Myers student regains her independence after traumatic brain injury

Published: July 4, 2022 3:11 PM EDT
Updated: July 4, 2022 4:00 PM EDT

As we celebrate our country’s independence, a local teen is re-asserting her own.

We’ve been following Khalia Carter for months now as she works to recover from a catastrophic wreck.

Carter is living proof that life can change in an instant.

One day she was a thriving high school senior prepping for graduation from Fort Myers High. With a screech of metal on a dark road, her world came crashing down.

Back in May, her mom Shawnda Cook described what happened.

“Somebody had to put the call through to call me to let me know that Khalia had been in an accident, and all, I could hear, is her screaming in the background,” Cook said.

A crash report from April states a motorcyclist driving 3-times over the legal limit for alcohol hit her. The wreck mangled her car and upended her life.

Carter suffered a major head injury. It impacted her speech and motor skills. She now faces the future one milestone at a time.

Carter had to relearn to walk so she could accept her high school diploma.

She has now graduated to other challenges.

“I decided to make strawberry shortcakes for the office today,” Carter said.


Therapy is her job. Helping Carter is a team from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Outpatient Center. And they have made her recovery their job.

“Mostly they’re always pushing me to be better. And so today we decided to do some motor skills so that I’m able to finally do real-world stuff,” Carter said.

With a sense of purpose, she assembles her strawberry shortcakes. A token of appreciation for the staff who supports her.

“I’m giving them out to the workers here because they’re doing such an awesome job. So they deserve at least a little treat on the day of the job,” Carter said.

Carter’s walking is noticeably better as she navigates the halls, delivering her thanks.

There are many obstacles ahead, but with determination and gratitude, she faces them head-on.

“I still haven’t driven yet. I’m still trying to take that day by day because anything can happen and I just want to make sure that I’m prepared when that time comes. But otherwise yes, I am doing fine. I like sharing my story with everybody,” Carter said.

It speaks to the power of unwavering determination.

Khalia is also taking college courses, which was another big goal.