Two of the victims of last month’s Times Square attack graduated from their New Jersey high school this week, despite the fact that one of them remains hospitalized.
Dunellen High School students Jessica Williams and Destiny Lightfoot were among those struck on May 18, when 26-year-old driver Richard Rojas mounted a curb and mowed down a crowd of people, injuring 22 and killing one. Police say Rojas, a discharged Navy member with a lengthy criminal record, was high on PCP when he made a U-turn off Seventh Avenue with intent to cause harm.
— NYT Metro Desk (@NYTMetro) May 19, 2017
Lightfoot accepted her diploma along with the rest of Dunellen High’s Class of 2017 during an outdoor commencement ceremony Wednesday, WABC-TV reported. The teen, still wheelchair-bound from the incident, received a standing ovation from her peers as she crossed the stage.
Williams, who is still in the hospital recovering from her injuries, was not able to attend the event in-person. Instead, her mother, Elaine Williams, accepted Jessica’s diploma on her behalf — she even donned her daughter’s graduation cap for the occasion.
“Very proud mom. I wish she could have been here,” Elaine Williams told WABC. “I wore the cap, she’s wearing the gown, so it’s all good.”
The Dunellen High Class of 2017, a tight-knit group of just more than 70 students, did their best to make Jessica feel like she was there with them. As Jessica watched a live stream of the ceremony from her hospital room Wednesday, the entire class paused to wave.
“They really pulled together… it’s amazing,” Dunellen principal Paul Lynch told WABC.
“Absolutely she’s probably screaming in the rehab right now,” Elaine Williams said Wednesday. “She’s all good. It’s all good.”
Following the tragic Times Square incident, doctors at Bellevue Hospital performed life-saving surgery on Jessica. The new graduate is staying at a rehab facility, where she is expected to make a full recovery.