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Spring break trip takes tragic turn, leaving collegiate swimmer partially paralyzed

By Tyler Fingert

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    FORT MORGAN, Alabama (WALA) — A day at the beach taking a tragic turn for a Baldwin County spring breaker.

It was Easter Sunday when 18-year-old Devin Bateman hit his head in the water off Fort Morgan injuring his spine, leaving him partially paralyzed.

The college swimmer from Virginia was here on the Gulf Coast for Spring Break.

“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,” said his father Donald Bateman.

Donald said Devin dove into the Gulf and hit his head leaving him unable to move.

He was pulled out and airlifted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. Devin needed several emergency surgeries after doctors say he hurt his C5 vertebrae leaving him paralyzed below the waist.

“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,” Donald said.

After a week and a half at Sacred Heart, Devin was moved Wednesday to the Sheppard Center, a spinal rehab facility in Atlanta. He is expected to be there for about two months.

“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,” Donald said.

Since news of the accident spread, support has been pouring in.

A GoFundMe created this week has already raised over $180,000.

Donald and the family are grateful.

“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,” he said.

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