PASCO -- Tyler Presnell looks like a regular 26-year-old, except he walks with a limp and expects to die young.
Students at Pasco High learned Wednesday that the Vancouver man nearly died 11 years ago when the car he was in slammed into a telephone pole.
Presnell showed pictures of the horrific crash, told students how it happened and detailed his recovery from painful injuries.
It's a story Presnell said he hopes teens remember long after Wednesday morning's assembly, because he won't.
"Here, in about an hour, this won't be up here anymore," Presnell said as he pointed to his head. "That's why I record everything. ... That's why I write everything down."
He explained that his most significant injury is one that's not even visible -- a traumatic brain injury that affects his short-term memory.
"Someone is diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury every 15 seconds in American because of a crash," Presnell said. "The safe driver revolution needs to happen."
Presnell was invited to speak at the high school by DECA students as part of their "Don't Race to Your Grave" campaign.
Sophomore Sierra Connolly, manager of the campaign, said she was inspired to promote safe driving after her young cousin, Isaiah, was injured in a crash in 2007.
"Speeding and racing doesn't affect just you, it affects everyone you're associated with," the 16-year-old said.
Isaiah and his mother were at the assembly and spoke to Presnell afterward. Isaiah has struggled with writing since the crash and Presnell said he did too, initially. Presnell made the young boy promise to write a couple of sentences every day and said the task would get easier.
The Pasco High DECA chapter received a $2,400 grant from State Farm Insurance for its safe driving campaign.
Presnell's visit was sponsored by Parkside Driving School, Sand and Sage Sports Car Club, McCurley Integrity Chevrolet and American Family Insurance.
He will be talking to students at Kiona-Benton City High School today.
Presnell's message to Pasco students was that they need to respect themselves and others and speak up if they're in a car with someone driving too fast.
Presnell, his twin brother and his younger sister were in a car with a 16-year-old new driver who was a longtime family friend when the teen started speeding "up and down roller coaster hills" to scare them.
"He was two years older than me. He was cool. I didn't say anything," Presnell said. "I didn't say anything for the next five months. I really wish I had told him to stop."
Presnell said the driver hit some water on the road, started sliding and spun out of control until the car smashed into a telephone pole.
That's the last thing he remembers until he woke up five months later. He broke both legs, has a metal left ankle and can't feel his right leg below his knee, he said.
He suffered massive internal injuries, and his parents thought he was going to die. Doctors told them if he did wake up, he'd never eat, talk or walk again.
"I won't live as long as you guys," he said. "It's a weird way to live, knowing that at some point in time, you will die young."
Presnell said his recovery has been long and lonely.
"I was so alone, I cried every day," he said. "Know how many people looked at me? Everybody. Know how many people talked to me? No one."
He told the students they need to choose to be safe drivers. Just because someone is going 75 mph in a 55 mph zone and isn't getting pulled over doesn't mean they should pull behind them and start speeding.
"That's peer pressure, and you don't even know the person," he said. "People think they're the only ones out there (on the road). Don't be like that.
"Man, you guys just need to drive safe," he added.