Amanda Guerra, NBC 5 News
WARNING VIDEO CONTAINS VIOLENT IMAGES: A 21-year-old Dallas college student who was brutally beaten on South Padre Island says the attack has reminded him to cherish life.
A 21-year-old Dallas college student who was brutally beaten on South Padre Island said Thursday that he will recover from the attack
Derek Madrigal looked different than he did two weeks ago. He has lost close to 40 pounds since a group of men attacked him during a spring break trip.
But he said he has no doubt he'll fully recover.
"I'm a strong man. I have a strong mind -- I really do," he said.
"I'm going to live even better now," he said. "I'm going to push myself even more because I could've lost my life, you know. It opened my eyes, and I hope it opens a lot of people's eyes as well, in that you need to cherish life. Life can be gone at any minute, so cherish it."
Madrigal said he was trying to defend a girl when a group of men started to attack him with coolers and various objects. He was stabbed nine times.
"I just don't want it to happen again," he said. "I want to put it in people's minds that it's not right. People need to learn what is right."
He spoke at a press conference at a Holiday Inn in Richardson on Thursday, two days after he was released from a hospital in Harlingen.
Madrigal, who still winces when he moves, sat next to his father during the press conference. Both men said the support people have shown for Madrigal has helped immensely in his recovery.
"All the people that really do care about me, I want to say thank you so much, because all the prayers -- I promise it helped me," he said.
Madrigal also thanked Fabien Ortega, the Army veteran who helped pull him to safety.
"I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him," Madrigal said.
"I remember them carrying me and some one asked him, like, 'Do you even know this guy?' Guy goes, 'No, but he needs help,'" he said.
South Padre police have arrested one person in the attack.