CHICAGO (WLS) --Danielle Palagi, 26, of Naperville, was hit by a semi while riding her bike in Chicago's Illinois Medical District last week and survived, but she still has a grueling recovery ahead.
Palagi collided with a turning semi on Sept. 23, shortly before 4 p.m., at the intersection of West Roosevelt Road and South Wood Street. She was rushed to Stroger Hospital in serious to critical condition.
She has already undergone several surgeries, but her loved ones said she's in amazing spirits.
"I'm in awe of her and how she's not melting down in pieces," said her cousin Bridget Misdom.
Palagi is a Naperville native and special education teacher for Easter Seals. She is still at Stroger Hospital for treatment. Her injuries were so bad her foot had to be amputated.
"Considering her condition, she's in amazing spirits and a lot of pain. I had to watch her go through physical therapy today and it was excruciating but afterwards she pulls herself together and says I need to do what I need to do to get better," Misdom said.
Two of her cousins are keeping her company at the hospital and cheering her on during her recovery.
"She's very aware of how lucky she is to be alive and I think that's what's pulling her through and making her so positive about this," said her cousin Brittany Vezina.
Palagi's family members think more regulations are needed when it comes to how close vehicles can be to bike lanes.
"My heart goes out to all those families who have lost loved ones. We're lucky enough to have her here to hold and hug and love," Vezina said.
Palagi is expected to stay in the hospital for a long time as she recovers and rehabs from her injuries. Her friends, family and their neighbors are now raising money to help pay for her medical bills.