Teen paralyzed in Fort Lauderdale boat crash walks across stage to graduate high school

Sean Mahoney paralyzed from shoulders down after 2015 crash

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It was just a little less than two years ago when Sean Mahoney was paralyzed after he and his friends crashed a boat into a bridge in Fort Lauderdale. And now, a video of him walking across the stage at graduation over the weekend -- and the crowd's reaction to that walk -- are going viral.

Mahoney graduated Sunday from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where he stood up from his wheelchair and walked across the stage with a bit of help.

His classmates erupted into applause.

"It's pretty big. Everyone says you walk across the stage. I'm glad I can say it and mean it," Mahoney, who was paralyzed in the crash, said.

The moment comes just a little less than two years after Mahoney's life was changed forever.

Just before he was supposed to start his senior year in August 2015, Mahoney and five of his friends crashed into a bridge while riding on a boat in Fort Lauderdale.

One of them, John Baker, 17, died at the scene. Three others, including Mahoney, were critically injured.

"I broke my neck and my C5 vertebrae, which left me paralyzed from pretty much the shoulders down," Mahoney said.

Since the crash, Mahoney has worked hard to gain back his movement, spending hours on end at Neuro Fit 360 in Pembroke Pines.

Early on, his physical therapist, Guy Romain, set his first goal of walking across that stage.

"To see him actually getting up, walking across the stage, that's a big achievement," Romain said.

Both Mahoney and Roman said they didn't notice the crowd noise at the time, but watching the video has been a bit overwhelming for each of them.

And now, Mahoney is setting an even loftier goal.

"Absolute full recovery in every aspect, eventually," he said.

According to the Broward State Attorney's Office, the investigation into the crash that left Mahoney paralyzed is still ongoing.

Mahoney will begin his freshman year at the University of Florida in the fall.

About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.