BOSTON (WHDH) - A man who lost his legs in a South Boston building collapse earlier this year left rehab today.

Wilson Ortega left the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Saturday, Oct. 8 on his brand-new prosthetic legs, a moment he said he never thought was possible.

“The first day they put those things on him, he thought he was never going to walk,” Ortega’s interpreter said.

In May, Ortega was part of the demolition crew working at the old Boston Edison Complex in South Boston when part of it collapsed on top of him. It took over a hundred firefighters to stabilize the building and free him.

The interpreter said Ortega still remembers every detail from that day.

“The last wood he cut, he didn’t realize that it was coming down, and it was too late,” the interpreter said. “When he looked down his legs were gone.”

He grew emotional speaking about his motivation for working so hard since that day.

“He does it for his son.” The interpreter said. “He always thinks about what his son will do if [Ortega] couldn’t walk, if he wasn’t here. So that’s his motive to live and keep going.”

Wilson’s doctors were proud of his attitude, and said it helped the recovery process immensely.

“This is a terrible thing that happened to him and yet he’s been able to look at it every single day and then meet those challenges,” one doctor said.

Ortega went to Boston Medical Center immediately after the accident, then to Spaulding to start therapy. Today was the end of his second stint there now that his wounds have healed enough to accept his prosthetic legs, and his body strong enough to go through a week and a half of intensive therapy to learn how to walk again.

Staff at Spaulding said Ortega’s experience has been motivational for other patients.

“The other patients can see that it’s going to take some hard work,” one staff member said. “But with the right equipment and the right therapy team, and the right time, you can be successful.”

The team saw him off with a round of applause and plenty of hugs. But Ortega is far from done. He said he is seeking to become a motivational speaker to people going through similar recovery processes. And one more physical goal, according to his interpreter.

“Little by little, step by step, he wants to run.”

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox