4
| News |

Alex Spartz, Glendale High School Swim Team Captain, Paralyzed in Maui After Breaking Neck

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Alex Spartz, a 17-year-old Glendale high school student, is still in Maui after a July 13 beach accident left him paralyzed.

The honor student, swim team captain at Mountain Ridge High School, and soccer player had been doing somersaults on Kaanpali Beach that day while on a family vacation. He mistimed a wave and crashed headfirst into the sand, breaking his neck. Now he's in ICU on the Hawaiian island, unable to move his fingers or his legs.

Spartz is one of three people who broke their necks on Maui beaches last week and the second one from Arizona.

Wendi Van Briesen, a Southwest flight attendant from Gilbert, died on July 19 after being hit by a wave while bodysurfing on Makena Beach. Southern Maui was under a high surf advisory for several days last week. Earlier this month, Todd Duitsman of Washington was paralyzed in a wave mishap similar to Van Briesen's.

Spartz's mother, Dorothy, came home to the Valley this week with the teen's two younger sisters. She tells New Times that medical professionals have given her family hope that a complete recovery is possible. He had a successful surgery two days after the accident to remove fractured vertebrae that lodged in his spinal cord.

"But his spinal cord is bruised and still healing," Dorothy says.

The family's been told that sometimes a bruised spinal cord never heals enough to restore mobility in a patient. On the other hand, some professionals are optimistic, saying "he's young and that the way he's progressing, he's going to be fine," Dorothy Spartz says.

His blood pressure has been stabilizing in recent days, and he was recently put on a tilt-table to shift his weight.

Brian and Dorothy Spartz are both teachers for the Phoenix Union High School District. After being told it would cost $70,000 for an air-ambulance flight from Maui to Phoenix, and that insurance wouldn't cover the fee because the flight was not medically crucial, Brian Spartz decided to use medical leave to stay in Maui until his son could come home on a less-expensive flight. The family's since been told they could take a private jet home with medical staff for $42,000, and that insurance would pay for part of the cost.

A friend started a Go Fund Me site for Alex Spartz that had raised nearly $7,200 as of today.

With the new school year about to start, Alex vows to keep up with his studies.

"His attitude is so amazing," Dorothy Spartz says of her son.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.