High school standout in ICU after breaking neck in Hawaii - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

High school standout in ICU after breaking neck in Hawaii

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A 17-year-old high school senior and star athlete from Glendale found himself in the same hospital as a Gilbert mother of two after both broke their necks on the beach in Hawaii, on the same day.

As we've reported, the Gilbert mother died from her injuries. The 17-year-old boy remains in the hospital in Hawaii.

Both victims were in rooms next to each other, and that is how the families discovered they were both from the valley.

"We're lucky to have him alive," said Dorothy Spartz.

Dorothy Spartz's 17-year-old son Alex was seriously injured on Kaanapali Beach in Maui during a family trip. His mother said he was doing somersaults into the waves.

"The wave stopped short; the wave didn't make it in, he already started his dismount and basically went headfirst into the sand and cracked his C-5 vertebrae," said Spartz.

Alex was rushed to the hospital in Maui. While there, Dorothy says they ran into another family from Gilbert.

"It's so bizarre, we were both here, going to the same islands, Maui and Kauai. The husband is a social studies teacher, and I'm a social studies teacher," she said.

Wendi Van Briesen, a flight attendant and mother of two, broke her neck the same day when a wave hit her while she was body surfing with her son.

Van Briesen and Spartz ended up in ICU rooms next to each other.

"We spent the better part of the week comforting each other in the ICU waiting room, "what did you hear about your son," "what did you hear about your mom," trying to get through this together," said Spartz.

A week after her injury, Van Briesen passed away.

"You cannot think about it, it's just so terrible," she said.

Alex is still in the ICU in Maui. "Still today he doesn't have movement in his waist or his fingers... we don't know if he'll have a complete recovery or not, we're hoping," said Spartz.

Alex will be a senior at Mountain Ridge High School, and he's an honors student and an athlete.

"He's a varsity swimmer, captain of the swim team this year, also a soccer player, and is just anxious to get back and back to his life... he's just been amazingly positive and that's his strength in all of this," she said.

Alex is in good spirits and has been tweeting pictures of himself in the ICU. Once his blood pressure stabilizes he'll be brought back to Arizona by air ambulance. While insurance is expected to cover some of the cost, Spartz says they're expecting to pay at least $10,000. Friends of the family have setup a GoFundMe.com account, you can donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/bynt80
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