Mandeville hit-and-run survivor has Saints star’s backing, vision for future despite losing eyesight

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
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MANDEVILLE, La. (WVUE) - A former St. Tammany Parish football standout, who barely survived a hit-and-run accident, is making a comeback few predicted. Dallas Matamoros heads back to LSU in a few weeks with support from a New Orleans Saints star.

Two years ago, Matamoros was doing well, studying by day and waiting tables by night, and loving LSU.

But on May 27, 2020, the unthinkable happened around 11 p.m., after a hard day of school and work, and an evening out with friends just off campus.

“I was walking. I was a pedestrian, and there was a hit-and-run,” said Matamoros.

A vehicle headed westbound on a busy Baton Rouge highway struck Matamoros and left him for dead.

“I got the phone call every parent dreads,” said his mother, Tracy Matamoros.

Dallas was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, where he was treated for a month. Doctors initially offered his family little hope.

“He’s done, it doesn’t look good, we have to wait and see what happens,” said Tracy.

Dallas suffered a severe brain injury and had to relearn everything, while rehabbing for more than a year.

And, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dallas’ parents were limited to 20-minute visits.

Bolstered by small but significant signs of progress, the Matamoros family moved Dallas to the TIRR and Moody rehab facilities in Texas, for the next four months.

“Day by day, he improved. It was miraculous,” said Tracy Matamoros.

Dallas could once again speak and slowly move around. But his vision was gone.

“When he first woke up, he told us he could see, but he couldn’t,” said Tracy.

Dallas’s extensive brain injury damaged his optic nerves.

The 24-year-old from Mandeville lost his sight, but he still had a vision for his future.

Dallas launched a TikTok series called the “Blind Chef,” with his mother Tracy as his photographer and other help from his friends.

“My friend Katie Gunther designed the shirt, and she’s awesome,” Dallas said.

But one of his biggest inspirations came from Saints linebacker Demario Davis.

“We heard about your story and we want to lift you up,” said Davis.

Dallas Matamoros got a chance to meet his hero at a Davis prayer breakfast, at a key point in his recovery.

Dallas had a couple of things going for him in his comeback: He’s young and in good shape, and he was a team captain who played linebacker for Lakeshore high.

Matamoros says the discipline he learned in football has helped him cobble his life back together.

But due to his life-changing injury, football has been replaced by a second love.

Dallas finds cooking therapeutic. He credits the Affiliated Blind of Louisiana training center in Lafayette for helping him navigate the kitchen, and a new life without sight.

As his confidence grows, he now plans to return to LSU in a few weeks, switching programs to pursue a sociology degree, hoping to help others as he heals himself.

“I can give advice to other people, based on my real-life experiences,” he said.

Experiences that dramatically impacted a life that nearly was taken away, by a hit-and-run driver who was never found.

“I’m excited to see what he’ll do from here,” Davis said, “and I know the sky is the limit.”

“In a strange way, blindness has been good for me,” Matamoros said. “It has motivated me and put me in a higher gear.”

There was one witness to the hit-and-run accident that nearly killed Dallas Matamoros. He said the vehicle involved was a white Mazda, but Baton Rouge police have reported little progress in their search.

Dallas’s mother now works with other families dealing with brain trauma, offering lessons she learned during Dallas’s ordeal. She says there are support groups out there that can make a difference in a victim’s recovery.

You can call the Louisiana Brain Injury Association for help at (504) 982-0685, or the Affiliated Blind School of Louisiana at (337) 234-6492.

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