In 2003 a brave little toddler captured thousands of Aussie hearts as she fought to survive after a car crashed into her NSW childcare centre and caught alight. That day, two-year-old Sophie Delezio suffered burns to 85 percent of her body as she was trapped under the burning vehicle.
But this wasn’t to be her final challenge. Three years later, the Sydney girl was hit by a car as her nanny pushed her wheelchair across the road and badly injured.
Now, Sophie is an upbeat teenager, recovering more with each surgery and finding her independence.
During an interview on the Today show this week, the 17-year-old spoke about how thrilled she was to be getting her driver’s licence after getting 120 hours of driving experience as a learner.
“I need help most of the time just to drive me around because it’s harder for me to catch transport so just the fact that I’d be able to take myself places and not having to ask for that extra assistance,” she said.
Sophie’s description to Today host Georgie Gardner of her life right now sounds a lot like any other teenager.
“I’m currently completing year 12 and I am still rowing, and acting, and just trying to get through this year.”
But for Sophie, this time it’s made harder by the injuries she suffered in the two near-fatal accidents.
Sophie lost the fingers on her right hand and both feet as a result of the car crashing into Roundhouse Childcare Centre while she was napping. The then two-year-old was in a coma fighting for her life for three months, leading many to label it a “miracle” that she survived.
Then, in May 2006 she was once again involved in a car accident. This time the car threw her 18 metres from her wheelchair. The resulting injuries included a broken jaw, broken ribs, fractured collarbone and a punctured lung as well as bleeding on her brain and a heart attack. Just a month later she was released from hospital and had returned to school by July that year.
However, her recovery never really ended. Sophie told Today that she still undergoes surgeries, but views them as positive steps forward.
“Knowing that I can’t change who I am, I just have to push through and get on with life.”
“Each surgery I have makes it easier for me to move and do certain things so that attitude ‘get through this so you can do this’.”
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Sophie has also chosen not to dwell on her hardships – and did not let her near-death experiences stop her from going skydiving in Queenstown, New Zealand last year.
“Everyone goes through hard parts in their life and yeah there have been struggles that I have had to overcome but that happens to anyone in any situation,” she said.
“The main thing is that I’ve overcome them.”