PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) – Port St. Joe track star Darian Mills and his coach Keion McNair survived a horrific car crash last summer that changed their lives forever.

In July of 2021, everything seemed to be falling into place for the rising senior who had just won a gold medal in the 110 hurdles at the FHSAA State meet.

He qualified for the Junior Olympics in Jacksonville, and just three days before the competition, Mills and Coach McNair were sitting in stand-still traffic when the wreck took place.

“He (McNair) was talking to me,” Mills said. “He was telling me the car wasn’t going to slow down, the truck actually, it wasn’t going to slow down, and it didn’t, it didn’t slow down. It was just boom, everything went pitch black.”

Mills and McNair were struck behind by a truck traveling around 80 miles per hour. The Pair had to be pulled from the vehicle that was left a mangled mess and McNair was rushed from the scene unconscious.

Mills said he was still at the scene of the crash fully aware, and left to believe that his coach and biggest mentor was no longer with him.

“Coming out of the wreck, sitting there on the scene, just being told that your coach didn’t make it, everything just went down,” Mills said. “Just being told that he didn’t come out of the wreck I just thought about everything, all I could think about is him and running.”

By a true miracle, both survived the wreck without any life-threatening injuries. McNair woke up hours later in the hospital and tried to jump up and find Mills to make sure he was okay, but he was restrained by the hospital staff.

Eventually, the pair would be reunited, and Mills said it was the biggest relief of his life.

“He came up to me and I found out that’s my coach, my coach is here with me,” Mills said. “So, it was the toughest thing I’ve ever been through, going to therapy for about two months, I had to wear a neck brace, he had to wear a back brace, brain damage, some injuries still.”

Fast forward to May of 2022, Mills defended his state title in the 110 hurdles, and on top of that, he also won gold in the 300-meter hurdles. McNair said being able to watch Mills make that comeback, was truly remarkable.

“Coming off of injury,” McNair said. “Him being able to rehab and coming back to the track and accomplish what he did at state, like back-to-back championships, and then to put on a new event with the 300 hurdles, to come off and win a state championship in that one as well.”

On May 26, Mills signed to continue his track career at Thomas Univerity. The pair who cheated death together sat side-by-side for the special experience, and Mill said having his coach there with him was priceless.

“I wouldn’t want to share it with no one else besides him,” Mills said. “Because he’s been there through my toughest times, my darkest times, it’s just truly a blessing that we both get to sit here at one of my greatest times.”

Mills is graduating from Port St. Joe High School with the school record for both the 110 and 300-meter hurdles.