It happened last summer, and Alex Spartz is still recovering, ready to take the next step in his life.
He was a star athlete in Glendale, captain of the swim team, and a soccer player. After the accident in the summer of 2014, he didn't have feeling from his upper chest down. He can't move from about the waist down, but he says he is staying positive as he looks forward to college this fall.
"When I hit my head initially, I could feel the shock go through my body," said Alex Spartz.
Mountain Ridge High School Senior Alex Spartz said he remembers every moment after diving head first into shallow water during a family trip to Hawaii in July. He ended up face down in the ocean, unable to move.
"It felt like an eternity face down, not knowing if someone is going to pull me out of the water. Is this the end, where it happens?" Alex Spartz said.
An off-duty fireman came to his rescue and pulled him out of the water. X-rays show he cracked his C-5 vertebrae, he spent the next two weeks in Hawaii in an intensive care unit.
"We were very fortunate that he didn't die," said Brian Spartz, Alex's dad.
Seven and a half months later, Alex Spartz says he is slowly regaining some feeling.
"I'm getting a lot more temperature sensation back, so there's progressions, I don't want to say miraculous, but encouraging for me," said Alex Spartz.
Despite recommendations to take the semester off, Alex Spartz went back to school in October.
"Being a senior, knowing everyone so well, my clique of friends, it's unbelievable how welcoming they were," said Alex Spartz.
He recently found out he was admitted to the University of Arizona Honors College for engineering and was awarded almost a full scholarship.
"It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm definitely willing to fight whatever battles I need to," said Alex Spartz.
"The prognosis for him is to live a full and happy life, whether he walks or not is immaterial... you don't live with your feet, you live with your brain and personality, and that's who you are," said Brian Spartz.
Alex Spartz wants to be an aerospace engineer. His goal for the next two years is to get the tendons in his fingers and triceps moving well. As far as long term recovery, he says it is anyone's guess. He hopes to go to a renowned rehab facility in Chicago over the summer.
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