‘Don’t give up’: Toronto man critically injured in hit-and-run publishes book

Dante Racioppo’s positive outlook on life shows when he talks about Cherry Berry, a children’s book he wrote and illustrated which was recently published.

The illustrations, Dante explains, were created with plasticine and took about 30 hours each to create. He adds that they were part of his rehabilitation therapy after a suffering a traumatic brain injury caused by a fail-to-remain collision in 2017.

The story of what happened to Dante was first reported on Global News in January 2017. Dante, then 24 years old, was returning from a religious pilgrimage to New York City with three friends when the Acura they were travelling in was rear-ended by a Mercedes SUV.

The driver of the SUV fled the scene and a limousine then struck the Acura, the driver unable to see the disabled vehicle because it was just after midnight and the road was dark.

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“If he had … stayed, his lights would have alerted the drivers around him and he might have got hit but we wouldn’t be talking like this,” Silvana Racioppo told Global News back in 2017.

Dante spent five months in hospital, including one month on life support at St. Michael’s Hospital. He suffered a tear in his carotid artery, collapsed lungs, a broken arm, a broken pelvis, a broken femur, a dropped foot due to a spinal injury and a traumatic brain injury.

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“When I got home, that’s when I got hit with a ton of bricks. I was like, whoa, my life has been totally flipped upside down,” Dante recalled after being released from hospital, saying he wanted to do a project that would give him a focal point during therapy.

“Something that I am interested in doing that’s creative and fun but would also challenge me,” he explained.

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Dante wrote the book in high school and decided to illustrate it. In September, Cherry Berry was published and since then, Dante has attended book launch events at the Toronto Public Library and at Indigo.

“It is a surreal experience. After so many years of putting my time into this book and seeing in come to fruition, it’s so remarkable,” Dante said.

His father gets emotional talking about his son’s long journey since that terrible night in January 2017, saying it hasn’t been easy.

“We knew that in those darkest moments that he would be fine. He was going to fight his way through. We just didn’t know what his life was going to be like,” said Silvano, choking back tears.

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Dante has also gotten married and has two young children. His wife was one of the other passengers in the car that night when Dante was nearly killed.

“We’re very happy where he’s at now,” Silvano explained.

Dante says he may never be able to drive a car or run, but is grateful for all the support he’s had from his family and friends. “This is what happened. It’s unfortunate. I hope that I’m able to learn from it, inspire others and carry on with life.”

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Dante’s advice to others who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury. “I would say, don’t give up.”

The Mercedes driver who fled the scene remains at large. Anyone with information on the vehicle or the driver is asked to call Toronto Police Traffic Services.

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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