BOSTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A college student from the Springfield area is speaking out after a day at the beach left him partially paralyzed with a broken neck.
We spoke with Nick Shelley from western Mass, who is recovering at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.
He should be starting his senior year at Lasell University, but instead, he's in a hospital room trying to relearn everyday skills.
Nick Shelley's life changed dramatically one day last month as he and his friends were enjoying the day at Nausset Beach in Cape Cod.
"I just ran down and dove in I guess. It was high tide and I don’t know. I miscalculated something and I broke my neck," Shelley tells us.
The 21-year-old college student, who grew up in the Springfield area, spoke exclusively with Western Mass News and described what happened.
"I didn’t feel any pain, but I just remember trying to move and all I could really do was this is pull my biceps up. I was trying to move my legs and push myself up the beach, but it didn’t work and I was trying really hard to do it and I couldn’t do it, and that’s what i kind of realized what happened." stated Shelley.
Nick was with a group of friends, including his sister, at the time.
He says his friend rushed into the water, pulling him out
"My best friend, Griffin, he thought I died. When the waves were slapping me, my friend Lucas ran in full clothes on and everything you know? My sister and my girlfriend were crying, scared. I think everyone was scared," explained Shelley.
First responders brought him to Hyannis where he was flown to Boston Medical Center.
Once there, he underwent a major neck surgery.
"I think I was on a breathing tube for a little bit. I don’t really remember being on a breathing tube, but they said I was on one. The feeding tube was the worst," continued Shelley.
Now at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Nick is on the road to recovery.
Occupational therapist Nicole Conti says he has been working hard.
"We have been working with Nick on how to take care of himself again, with things like self-feeding, grooming, basic ADLs, which is Activities of Daily Living, so that he can be more independent in his day-to-day routine," said Conti.
And his family has been by his side each step of the way.
"It is getting easier, because I am seeing an improvement, you know? All of a sudden, he is moving his arms he is moving his fingers and maybe a little bit of movement on the legs and so the fact that you can see that kind of progression it brightens the day," Nick Shelley's father tells us.
Since that frightful day in August, Nick is now making major milestones.
"Recently, in the past week, I have started to move my fingers and, honestly, it was one of the happiest moments I have had so far, because, you know, a lot of the days I would just stare at my fingers trying to get them to move, so my big goal is to be able to type to use a computer just like normal," added Shelley.
While Nick is fighting to recover and get back home, his friends are focused on helping the family with medical bills and home accessibility equipment that will be needed.
If you would like to help Nick out, you can CLICK HERE to learn more information.