Utah man paralyzed after a day at the beach in Hawaii
Less than a day on the island, one family's dream vacation turned into a nightmare.
A Utah man is recovering at Queen's Medical Center, unable to move his arms or legs after a day at the beach.
“Our whole life changed that day in a split second on that beach.”
One day, one wave, in one instant. Last Sunday, Todd Edgington and his whole family were enjoying the waters of Hapuna Beach on the Big Island. Less than a day on the island, their dream vacation turned into a nightmare.
“A wave just crested down on him and tumbled him under the water, and he was just floating face down,” said Tristen Gatzemeier.
A 49-year-old father of three and grandfather of four broke his neck in two places and was flown to Queen’s Medical Center where doctors told his family that he might never be able to use his arms and legs.
But Edginton's condition is improving. Initially he was only able to communicate with eye movements.
“He’s more comfortable now, and we’re kind of able to communicate a little bit better. We can read his lips a little bit more now,” said Gatzemeier.
As a postal carrier in Salt Lake, Edgington walked 10 miles a day. His son also works for the U.S. Postal Service in the same area.
“Walked together every day, ate lunch together, talked all day… so I’m a little scared to go back to work because I don’t know how hard it’s going to be for me,” said Cruz Edgington.
The family was planning to return to Utah today. They don't know how long it will be before they can go home, but they do know it will be costly and the expenses won't end once they land.
“Then after we get home, there’s going to be revamping of the home and car and everything,” said Tristen.
Tristen and Cruz are just thankful their father is alive, and they are hopeful for a full recovery.
“We’ve heard stories of people that have similar injuries that have been able to regain movement in their arms and some have even walked again,” said Tristen.
For now, they will do their best to prepare their father for the long road ahead.
“I can’t imagine. Your own personal hell. You’re a prisoner in your own body,” said Tristen. “Your mind is there, but you can’t move. You can’t do anything.”
The family has set up a blog and a Go Fund Me account to help with medical expenses.
For those interested in helping, visit the "As Seen On" section of our website.