College Student in Car Crash Mix-Up Making Progress With Recovery

A woman misidentified for weeks as a college classmate who was killed in a traffic accident has been cleared to walk without a special boot used to help her rehabilitation, according to her family's online journal.

Whitney Cerak, 19, of Gaylord, was among nine people from Indiana's Taylor University riding in a school van that collided with a truck on April 26. She was severely injured.

"We were in tears when she stood up on both legs, took three steps forward and looked at us with a huge smile and said 'Lets take the stairs,"' her father, Newell Cerak, wrote Friday in the blog, which details her medical progress.

Cerak had been using a walking boot to help her bear her full weight.

Five people in the van died, including Laura VanRyn, a 22-year-old Taylor senior from Caledonia Township. VanRyn's mother and father were mistakenly told that their daughter was alive while Cerak's parents were told that Whitney, whose injuries initially left her in a near-coma, was dead.

VanRyn's family and boyfriend kept vigil at Cerak's bedside for five weeks before realizing the error.

Cerak is recovering at a rehabilitation center.