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‘She’s an inspiration:’ Victim of hit-and-run crash fights through pain, loss, and plans to persevere

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Tina Ortiz

WEST ALLIS -- When exercising, you will come across a choice: Stop or keep going. Even when things went from tough to grueling, Tina Ortiz chose to keep going. At the gym and on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle, she moves, despite a great loss.

"The gym is a place where I release the majority of my stress," Ortiz explained. "On the left side, I have no pelvis, no sitting bone, no hip bone, no nothing. I am straight scar tissue."

Ortiz smiles through the pain -- often stunning those that see what she can do.

Tina Ortiz

Billy Charles

"She's an inspiration to all of us in the gym. People be crying in here," said Billy Charles, her workout partner.

In spring 2018, Ortiz was the victim of a hit-and-run. According to police, Ortiz was driving on Appleton Avenue when a woman trying to get into the middle lane collided with her vehicle. Ortiz's car flipped three times. She was ejected. She could not move. The driver who hit her took off. The clock was ticking on Ortiz's life.

"It happened April 6, 2018," Ortiz said. "My organs were fighting to save a leg that they couldn't."

Tina Ortiz

Tina Ortiz

Ortiz's chances for survival relied on the removal of her entire left leg. She woke up in a hospital. Her family was there. She did not yet know her leg was not.

"I'm like, 'Why are you crying? What's going on?'" Ortiz recalled.

The driver was eventually arrested.  Through a plea deal ,she was sentenced to serve two years in prison.

Ortiz's life would never be the same.

"I just screamed. I screamed. I lost it," Ortiz explained. "Not being able to move, as active as I was, it was taking me to a dark place."

Tina Ortiz

Ortiz spent several months in the hospital, and had 29 surgeries before being released -- but she made a choice.

Tina Ortiz

"She came with me, with all the energy, and said, 'Don't take it easy on me,'" Charles said. "She hasn't changed. As a matter of fact, I think she got more energy, more drive."

Ortiz asked Charles to be her workout partner. They hit the gym for an hour almost every day. When the pain creeps in, she said she thinks of her child.

"My daughter. I fought for her," Ortiz said.

Slowly but surely, Ortiz began gaining strength, even learning to jump in place.

"So Tina's level of amputation is called a hemipelvectomy, which means that her entire leg is gone," Prosthetist Dave Rotter said.

Tina Ortiz

As he worked to create a customized leg for Ortiz, Rotter told FOX6 News from Joliet, Illinois that her case was among the most challenging, as the prosthetic must work with soft tissue, instead of bone and muscle.

"Every time she goes to take a step, she has to load her body weight into the prosthetic device -- when she is literally loading it on the soft tissue,” Rotter explained.

Home videos have proven with every step she takes, Ortiz shatters the odds stacked against her. The prosthetic means freedom for her.

Tina Ortiz

"The freedom to stand, to have two free hands," Rotter said.

Ortiz has gained strength, confidence, and a new sense of purpose.

"I don't get offended anymore," Ortiz said. "I plan on being the sexiest prosthetic bionic leg lady out here!" Ortiz said.

Ortiz said she's eager to use her voice to help others recovering from trauma.

Despite a great loss, Ortiz has never lost her determination, her humor, or her indomitable spirit.

"Life goes on. You are here for a reason," Charles said.

Ortiz made the choice to find that reason.

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