AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Gilbert Silva is traveling a new road in life.
“I just wanted to start my own business eventually,” said Silva, who recently passed his final exam and earned his Commercial Driver’s License. “So I thought the truck would be the best way to go.”
He recently completed Amarillo College’s Truck Driving Academy, and said it’s an eight-week grind.
“It’s a long process to get through this, but it’s been good,” he told KAMR.
“Gil” as he’s known by his family and friends is a living, breathing testimony.
“I had a stroke back in 2012, so because they couldn’t do anything for me here in Amarillo, (they) flew me to Dallas, and they gave me 1% chance to live, and it was from a brain aneurysm,” he explained.
As a result of his stroke and aneurysm, Gil had to have his right leg amputated above the knee, a tough task when it comes to driving. But that didn’t stop him.
An Amarillo company built a device that allows him to drive with his left foot.
“It’s four bolts. It’s a heavy duty one. And, my gas pedals on the left since I’m a right leg amputee and instead of you because I can’t use my foot on the prosthetic like that. So it just, it’s way easier and way more comfortable,” he said.
Instructors at the academy had never accommodated an amputee driver before, but they embraced the opportunity.
So when Gil called and inquired about training, “I told him, I think we can do something for you,” said Tony Diaz, an Instructor at AC’s Truck Driving Academy. “We have automatic trucks that we use generally you don’t train in automatics, unless it’s a last resort, because there’s a restriction on your license. We went ahead and purchased the device that he needed to put in our truck, we had it mounted in our truck just for him. So we went, we went and did whatever is going to take to make this happen.”
He passed his final exams last week, and became the first amputee graduate of the program.
“Man, I would encourage anybody to get out here and go through this class, it gets you. You can work for yourself, or there’s companies that’s going to hire you, for sure,” he said proudly.
For more information on AC’s Truck Driving Academy, including registration for their June class, click here.
For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with MyHighPlains.com and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.