A swimmer at a Virginia college is partially paralyzed after a tragic accident while vacationing in Alabama, shocked relatives said.
Devin Bateman, an 18-year-old freshman swimmer at Washington and Lee University, was just starting his spring break trip on Easter Sunday when he decided to go for a swim in waters off Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Bateman “hit his head” upon diving into the water and “could not move” afterward, according to an online fundraiser set up by a family friend for the teen’s mother, Celeste Bateman.
Devin was airlifted to a hospital in Pensacola, Florida, where he underwent emergency surgery on his C5 vertebrae. He was later diagnosed with a spinal cord injury and currently “does not have the use of his legs,” according to the fundraiser, which had generated more than $190,000 as of Thursday.
Bateman, a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is now being treated at a spinal rehabilitation center in Atlanta, where he’ll spend 7 to 8 weeks before returning home.
“Devin Bateman is a loving son, a wonderful brother, a true friend and a loyal teammate,” according to the fundraiser. “He is an amazing young man and loved by many.”
Bateman’s father, meanwhile, said he was blown away by the outpouring of support by more than 1,600 donors, including three who committed $5,000 apiece.
“It’s definitely going to be able to help with everything that he’s going to need to be able to stay on track and just be able to focus on being able to walk again,” Donald Bateman told WALA. “Initially, he wasn’t able to move anything, but now his upper portion is actually getting signals and we’re taking every little win as a victory.”
Despite the long road of recovery ahead, Bateman said he expects his son to be back on his feet once again.
“For somebody who’s actually been swimming since 9 years old you would never think that he’d be in the position that he’s in,” Donald Bateman said. “He has such a strong work ethic that there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to do everything in his power to be able to get up and walk.”
A message seeking additional comment from Washington and Lee University was not immediately returned Thursday.