HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A South Florida teenager who was injured in a lacrosse accident earlier this month is walking again after doctors believed he might never walk again.
"Within five minutes of the game, there was a collision, which involved Chase. I didn't think anything of it at first," the teen's coach said.
Chase Lalonde's injuries were worse than expected. The lacrosse team captain suffered a blunt blow to the back of his spine during a game March 2, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
"I'm crying because this is the first time he'd be a quadriplegic," his mother said.
"When he arrived, it was as bad as it looked as far as his ability to move his legs, and it made us immediately concerned it may be a permanent quadriplegia," Dr. Andrew Rosenthal said.
Rescue workers flew the 16-year-old to Memorial Regional Hospital, where he underwent hours of trauma surgery.
Doctors at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital were uncertain about the outcome, saying his unbelievably fast recovery to walking and using his hands again is a direct product of his unwavering optimism.
"Chase had the kind of injury where there was significant bruising and compression at the spinal cord," Rosenthal said.
"It's a testament to who he is as a person, his strength of character," Chase's coach said about his recovery.
On Thursday, Chase's family, teammates from Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale and medical staff gathered at the hospital and cheered him on as he took his first steps since the accident.
"I did doubt I could walk, but I'm happy I was able to make progress," Chase said.