Community rallies around Hamilton Southeastern teen after swimming accident

FISHERS, Ind. – A Hamilton Southeastern teen is facing a second major injury in a matter of months and his community is now rallying around him.

"I'll use what Josh said and he's gotten some guidance from a few people who have had similar experiences, both the individuals and the parents, you know things change in the blink of an eye," said Josh Fugate's father, Dan.

Last Wednesday, Dan Fugate says his son was enjoying a lake day with friends near Bremen after his graduation from Hamilton Southeastern High School and before they headed off to college, Josh to Indiana University.

"They were swimming and one of his friends noticed that Josh was struggling and got Josh out of the water and Josh was complaining of neck pain, said we need to call 911," Fugate said.

He was taken by helicopter to a hospital in South Bend. Fugate said Josh fractured his C5 vertebrae, which impacted his spinal cord.

"To our understanding there is no penetration to the spinal cord. It's intact. It's bruised," Fugate said. "He currently has use of his arms. In terms of movement he can rotate his wrist, his fine motor skills in his hands and fingers are not there and he's not able to walk of course, from the chest down, he's...we'll say he's temporarily paralyzed. Our hope is that he will be able to go to rehab and recover," Fugate said.

It's not the first injury for Josh, though. Fugate said in January a T11 fracture of his back during practice cut his basketball career short.

"At that time the Fishers community, the basketball community, everyone rallied around us to help us through that situation. I didn't think it could get any better than that," Fugate said.

But when family, friends and community members got word of what happened at the lake, they didn't think twice about rallying around the family again.

"I know the Fugates would do the same thing if that happened with anybody in my family, so like I said, it was the right thing to do to set that up and it's amazing to see what the page has done so far and want to see where it can go from there," said Mason Hankins, who helped start a GoFundMe campaign.

The page raised more than $60,000 in a matter of days.

"It has just been unbelievable the response that we have received both near and far, family, friends, acquaintances, just reached out and been so supportive not only from the financial aspect, but from the spiritual and supportive side of it. And for us right now, it's all equally important, as we don't know what Josh's journey holds for us," Fugate said.

Right now, Josh remains in a hospital in South Bend. Fugate said they'll determine what the “new normal” is, though they're not ready to define that yet.

"It's just a new path is how we're approaching it."

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