GLENDALE, AZ - A Glendale teen is stuck far from home, recovering from an injury that could have killed him. His family says they're hopeful for his future.
Alex Spartz is captain of his high school swim team and wants to study aerospace engineering when he graduates. For now, all his energy is focused on recovery and on getting back home to Arizona.
"He's just the greatest thing that's pretty much ever happened to me. Number one brother in the world," Mandy Spartz said.
It's clear how much Mandy looks up to her big brother Alex. They're on the swim team together and were on what was supposed to be an amazing family vacation in Hawaii. The siblings were playing in the water when things went horribly wrong.
"There's this wave that looks like it's going to be really big, so Alex, who was doing somersaults, was going back to do it again and the wave doesn't go up as far, it's not as deep, and he somersaults head first into the sand," Mandy said.
Alex and his family rushed to the hospital, fearing the worst.
"At first we find out that he fractured his C-5 vertebrae," Mandy said.
But then, some good news. Alex's spinal cord injury isn't as bad as it could have been.
"We were really happy that it was only bruised and not severed," Mandy said.
Alex had feeling in his feet from the beginning, and Friday night, a major milestone in his recovery.
"On our nightly call from them we heard that he had moved his foot and that was huge," Mandy said.
But Alex and his dad are stuck in a Hawaiian hospital, with the rest of the family in Arizona. All Mandy wants now is to have her big brother back home.
"It'll mean the world to me," she said.
Getting Alex home is going to be a challenge. Right now Mandy said the best option could be an air ambulance, and that's pretty expensive.
The family has set up a Go Fund Me page. For more information go their account page .