‘A Walking Miracle’: HACC Alum Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Surviving Accident

Ten years ago, Vaughn was in a devastating car accident. Doctors did not expect him to survive.


Courtesy Photo

Courtesy: Ethan Vaughn

Rachel Fleagle, Section Editor

HACC alumni Ethan Vaughn is celebrating his tenth anniversary as a walking miracle.

On March 19, 2011, Vaughn was a passenger in a car that ran into an 18-wheeler. Doctors did not expect him to survive, and he faced months of rehabilitation afterwards. Today, Vaughn continues to share his amazing comeback story and inspire those around him.

On the day of the accident, Vaughn was assisting with a fundraiser. He later traveled in a car with his aunt, his two cousins, and his aunt’s fiancé, who was driving. While they were going to Philadelphia, her fiancé accidentally pulled in front of an oncoming 18-wheeler. Her fiancé and one cousin tragically died in the accident, and Vaughn was severely injured.

“I had a one percent chance of living versus a 99 percent chance of death,” he said. Vaughn explained that after doctors performed “a risky surgery” he had months of rehabilitation ahead.

“I was in rehab working on grabbing things, speech, just learning all the basic things that people normally take advantage of. And in the middle of being in rehab, I ended up choking on a banana.”

 Vaughn had to be placed on a feeding tube until August. An Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor explained there was a problem with his larynx.

“Ultimately I ended up passing the feeding test in August and that’s when I started eating again and I crashed the buffet lines, and I felt like I was doing some gluttony,” he laughed.

Overcoming all odds, Vaughn has made an incredible comeback. He got his driver’s license in 2013, and went on to graduate from HACC in December 2017 with an Associates degree in General Studies, Communication concentration.

In December 2020, he graduated at Millersville University with a bachelor’s of science in Major Speech Communications.

Vaughn has worked for the School District of Lancaster since 2013, first as a Teacher’s Assistant and Playground Assistant, and now as a Sports Event Assistant.

Over the past decade, he has shared his story through numerous interviews, as well as his social media. He has been an inspiration to the youth he works with and those who saw his amazing recovery.

“I never asked to be an inspiration and… motivate people out of this situation. What I wanted was just to be able to eat a bucket of chicken again,” Vaughn laughed. “And drink out of a straw or a cup.”

Vaughn understands both the positives and difficulties in his position of influence.

“As far as motivating people, I understand it comes at a cost. That means I have to be ready for open-heart surgery, to be vulnerable and show humility.”

He continues to inspire those around him through his social media platform and work with youth.

Vaughn will be celebrating his 10th anniversary of the accident on March 19, 2021.