COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Almost three years ago, 18-year-old Casey McGruder lost his twin brother — and nearly his own life — in a car crash.
On Saturday, he officially graduated from Columbus City Schools, along with an honorary diploma for his brother.
Back in September 2018, four teens were in the car when 18-year-old driver Christian Bednarz went off the road and hit a tree. The three other teens in the car were Ezekiel Atkinson, 18, and 16-year-old twins Casey and Cory McGruder. Corey McGruder was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“Brothers fight, brothers argue, but that was my best friend, always had my back,” Casey McGruder said.
Casey McGruder was spent months in the hospital, slowly having to recover through physical therapy.
McGruder had to miss school for nearly an entire year, and once he returned, had to work twice as hard just to catch up, on top of taking many of his classes at home due to the pandemic.
“It was hard at first,” Casey McGruder said. “I mean, I lost my brother, I was out a whole year. I had to learn how to walk again, how to go through physical therapy and all that.”
But today, he’s officially a graduate of Briggs High School.
“He’s a McGruder,” Chris McGruder, the boys’ father, said. “He ain’t got no quit.”
That could be said for the McGruder family. In addition to Corey, Casey lost his mother and sister over the last three years.
“All the teachers, they stuck by my side and told me, even on my worst day, ‘We know you can do it, we know you can graduate,’” Casey McGruder said. “’Your brother, sister, and your mom would want this for you, don’t give up.’ So I didn’t give up, I just tried to stick it out.”
Both Casey and Chris said Saturday’s graduation wouldn’t have been possible without all the help and support of the staff at Briggs High School and the staff at the hospital who helped Casey heal.
“Doctor Milligan, Smith, Kiper, Higgins, all of them, and even the staff were great, and he wouldn’t have done it except for them,” Chris McGruder said.
Casey said he’s not only glad to have graduated, but he’s looking toward the future.