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South Dade Senior High School begins new year without beloved principal

Javier Perez struck by suspected drunken driver in April

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – As students went back to class to begin the 2016-17 school year at South Dade High School, their beloved principal, Javier Perez, was not there to greet them.

"It's going to be a regular school day at South Dade Senior High School, albeit a bit sadder," Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.

Javier Perez was struck by an alleged drunken driver while coaching his son's little league team in April.

Marilyn Aguilera was arrested in connection with the crash and is now facing charges.

Perez, who is currently undergoing rehabilitation, had to have both of his legs amputated.

At a meeting for school administrators, Carvalho shared a letter Perez wrote to his colleagues.

"Unfortunately, life has taken me and my family on an unexpected detour," Perez wrote. "Nonetheless, I feel blessed to have a second chance at life."

Carvalho said those who know Perez have learned from his strong spirit.

"That is that he cannot be stopped," Carvalho said. "He is a natural-born leader, and his personal inspiration is one that shall actually impact dramatically, in a positive way, the kids of South Dade Senior High School."

Below is Perez's full letter read to his colleagues Monday morning:

Dearest Buccaneer family,

I have found myself thinking of my South Dade family throughout the last few weeks, but especially this morning. It is extremely difficult for me not being there along side all of you; I always looked forward to welcoming the eager and nervous students and staff. The first day of school has always been one of my favorite days of the year. Although I may not be there in person today, my heart is with you. 

As you begin the 2016-2017 school year, I have every confidence that South Dade High School will continue to be the Premier High School of the South because we have the best administration team, an astounding faculty and staff, phenomenal students, and the most supportive community. I am certain that this school year will be an amazing year for the Buccaneers. 

As all of you know, life took my family and I on an unexpected detour. I would like to share with all of you that I am getting stronger everyday. My days are filled with intense therapies, but I am determined to get well. Your love and prayers have been felt every step of my journey. I am deeply humbled by your kindness. 

Best wishes on an incredible school year. 

Regards, 

Javier Perez 

#JAVISTRONG