PISCATAWAY, NJ—On the night of June 18, 2009, Gabriel Hurley made a quick run to a convenience store for some last-minute groceries.

That drive resulted in a massive head-on collision, which rendered Hurley permanently blind in both eyes, and with no sense of smell.

The air conditioner compressor unit had catapulted through the windshield of Hurley’s car, embedding itself directly into his face.

Multiple facial surgeries, and rehabilitation at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has given him the physical strength to overcome the crash.

Gabriel has taken his recovery far beyond just physical, he remains resilient and hopeful of his future dreams.

“It was a choice I decided to make. You can’t do it over.”

A 2008 Rutgers graduate, Hurley came back to campus to share his story at Rutgers University’s 2014 Mark Leadership Conference on February 28.

Hurley spoke about his life-changing car crash and how he has made strides to overcome that moment of darkness. He also played a medley of songs on the guitar, including Guns’ N’ Roses “Sweet Child of Mine.”

Gabriel is currently in a band called The New Black.  He spoke fondly of being able to connect with others on a musical level.

“I want to use my musical talent to help others”, he said.

Gabriel also spoke of the ironic title of his band.

“[The New Black] symbolizes my life. It’s not like I have any depth perception.”

“I woke up to complete darkness. I never thought about it until recently.”

Hurley told New Brunswick Today that he wants to spread a message to other young people and students about he importance of resilience and positivity.

“Even in spite of loss, life is still worth living, and make something of yourself.”