Swimmer walks Notre Dame Trail in honor of teammates killed in bus crash

Published: Aug. 14, 2017 at 8:18 PM EDT
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As the Notre Dame Trail wraps up day two, a former swimmer for Notre Dame is beating the odds.

A tragic accident 25 years ago nearly claimed her ability to walk and took the lives of her two teammates. Now, she's walking in their memory.

25 years ago on January 24, 1992, the Notre Dame women's swim team was on the way back from a meet with Northwestern when tragedy struck.

Just two miles from home, the team's bus hit a patch of black ice and careened off the road. Two of her teammates, Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hip, were killed.

"There's a lot that I remember from that night and there's a lot that I don't," said Haley Scott DeMaria. "I remember I was cold, I remember my back hurting, and I remember when I was first taken from the scene of the accident; I couldn't feel anything from the waist down."

Just a freshman in college, Haley was told she would never walk again.

"Those are very hard things to hear at 18 years old, so I didn't necessarily believe that was the case," she said.

She was right. With time and intense physical therapy, Haley did walk again; but she never walked away from that snowy January night.

"This is something that you never get past," she said. "That was one of the lessons that I had to learn. You never get over it, it never goes away, it becomes part of who you are; and part of the journey is learning to live with that and learning to accept it and trying to make some good of it."

Which brought her to the Notre Dame Trail. She's walking to honor her teammates, including the two watching from above.

"They live with me every day. They have always been and will always be the inspiration for so much of what I do because they can't and they're not here," Haley explained. "And I know my teammates feel the same way. We think of Meghan and Colleen all the time, and we try to honor their lives through our own."

"I have my whole team with me. So, yes, in that sense I couldn't have gotten through something like this on my own. My teammates are with me all the time," she added.

Ensuring that while they may be with her only in spirit, she will never walk alone.

"This is a huge continuation of the journey I've been on for the last 25 years," Haley said. "I am very aware of every step – that's part of the physical journey for me."

"They carried me when I couldn't walk, both physically and emotionally and spiritually."