Matt Hardy on Dennis Drue: 'I want to forgive him face to face'

Posted at: 12/13/2012 11:25 PM
Updated at: 12/14/2012 9:37 AM
By: Jessica Layton

CLIFTON PARK - Matt Hardy can only recall flashes of the accident that changed his life forever.

"Half my body in the car, half hanging out of the car and I was just praying. I was asking God to get me out of there safely," the 17-year-old said.

He's been grateful that prayer was answered every moment since the crash.

But nothing's the same without his girlfriend, Deanna Rivers, and fellow football player Chris Stewart, who were in the car with him. It was Matt's mother Patricia who gently broke the news about their deaths the morning after the horrific accident.

"I just broke down. It was so hard to hear," he said.

Surrounded by love, balloon bouquets and signed basketballs, Matt spoke with NewsChannel 13 in the family living room Thursday. He says the pain of a broken leg, fractured pelvis and staples in his head have finally become bearable.

"Just sitting here is comfortable. I'm feeling a lot better," he said.

The past 12 days have been filled with moments of suffocating sadness and inspiring strength. The thought of 10,000 people chanting “I believe” with candles lit at last week's vigil on the football field still gives him chills.

"I never thought all the schools in the area would be united like that," he said.

He lights up when he talks about that now famous phone call in his hospital room from New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow.

"It was unreal. It was crazy. We prayed together. Best prayer I've ever been part of," he said before smiling.

Tebow is Matt's idol -- not only for football, but for his faith. It's a faith he turns to every night when he thinks about Dennis Drue, the 22-year-old driver police say caused the crash.

"I just definitely want to forgive him. It's the right thing to do I think," Matt said.

He hopes to do that face to face.

Police say Drue was speeding when he slammed into the car the teens were in that night on the Northway as they were coming home from a basketball game in Albany. So far he hasn't been charged.

Police say Drue had alcohol in his system. But a source close to the investigation tells NewsChannel 13 toxicology tests show he was under the legal limit. They're waiting for the results of more tests to see if there were other substances in his system.

Matt says he's been speaking every day with Bailey Wind, the other crash survivor. He says they plan to get through their recovery together.