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Hilmar grad in coma after crash
Nicholas Azevedo, a recent Hilmar High graduate, was critically injured in a collision Monday morning. - photo by Photo Contributed

A recent graduate and wrestling standout at Hilmar High School was critically injured Monday morning in a crash on Highway 99.

Nicholas Azevedo, 18, is in a medically induced coma at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, said his mother, Lorraine Azevedo.

“He’s breathing on his own now,” she said. “He’s a fighter.”

Nicholas Azevedo sustained his injuries Monday morning while on his way to Modesto Junior College to pick up his class schedule, Lorraine Azevedo said.

Nicholas Azevedo was driving his 2000 Jeep Wrangler northbound on Highway 99 in the fast lane at an unknown speed. As he approached his exit he attempted to move into the middle lane, but the left side of his Jeep collided with the right side of a Kenworth tractor-trailer, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The impact sent the Jeep across the freeway and off the roadway, where it struck a light post.

He was wearing his seat belt at the time of the collision but the force of the impact caused him to strike his head on the lamp post, Lorraine Azevedo said.

Nicholas Azevedo graduated from Hilmar High School in June and was enrolled at MJC to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer.

“He’s just a model kid,” Lorraine Azevedo said of her son. “People joke with me that I should take some of his DNA and sell clones of him on Ebay.”

Racking up wins as a high school wrestler, Nicholas Azevedo had joined the wrestling squad at MJC and was attending practices.

Lorraine Azevedo said doctors are cautiously optimistic about her son’s prognosis, but predict a long road of recovery.

“They have been telling us about possible brain damage and it has been such a bleak time,” Lorraine Azevedo said. “But he is making progress. I was holding his hand and telling him ‘Mom is here’ and he squeezed my hand. Words can’t even convey how that affected my heart.”

The driver of the Kenworth, Jose Manuel Lopez, 34, of Rio Grande, Texas was not injured in the crash.

Drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the crash, the CHP reported.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.