BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Wednesday, UAB honored trauma survivors, their families and the doctors that treated them.

Wil Raines is a survivor who said he’s alive today and able to live out his dream of being a father because of the care from trauma specialists at UAB.

Raines is a familiar face here at CBS 42. As a photojournalist, he is an integral part of our team, capturing the heart of stories through the camera lens but it’s his heart that’s taking center stage.

Raines is a car accident survivor and thanks to doctors at UAB’s Trauma Center, he is able to share his story of survival.

“Going across four lanes of traffic changed the rest of my life,” Raines said.

It was the day after Christmas, 1997 when young Raines’ life flashed before his eyes.

“People at the Chevron said ‘Man, there was a bag that went flying out that car.’ [In reality] that was me,” Raines said.

He had hopped in his friend’s Bronco. They were meeting friends at the gas station down the street when they got in a car accident.

“I always wear my seatbelt. But you know, you jump in the car and run across the street, run a mile down the street go see a friend. You don’t think about it. I didn’t think about it,” Raines said.

A car crashed into them causing the Bronco to flip three times throwing Raines out of the car.

“Everything turned white, and it was completely quiet. Growing up as a person of faith I knew exactly what it was. I wasn’t scared,” Raines said.

The crash happened in Prattville, miles from UAB’s Trauma Center. He had a broken arm, collapsed lung and a stage-five laceration on his liver, causing him to bleed out.

“I saw my mom and my dad and the last thing I said to them for a few weeks was pray for me,” Raines said.

His family doctor, Dr. Charles Cloutier knew Raines’ chances of survival were running out. It was a cold, rainy December night and Cloutier said the medivac was grounded because of the weather. He pulled some strings and got an ambulance from Prattville to take Raines to Birmingham. He rode with him the entire way giving him blood and fluids along the way.

“We got him to UAB about 4 a.m. and UAB took over. They were professional, excellent. We felt very comfortable with Wil being here at UAB. It’s a time that’s embedded in your brain and will not go away. It was a traumatic event for everyone involved. Wil was a trooper,” Dr. Cloutier said.

Thankfully the surgeries were a success. It was the beginning of a long road to recovery. He had been given a second chance at life.

“If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have my son. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to y’all,” Raines said.

And this Wednesday, Raines got to thank that doctor in person at UAB’s Trauma Survivors’ Day.

“I just want to give him a hug. I was talking to my mom, and I said what can I get him. He’s the one that saved my life,” Raines said.

Raines said it’s because of doctors like Dr. Cloutier and centers like UAB’s Trauma Center that so many people get to live a long and healthy life.