Paralyzed teen looks to his faith for recovery

A Brookings teen is recovering from a surfing accident that took place almost 2 weeks ago in Harbor, Ore. Now the 18-year old is paralyzed. The family said he’s recovering in Redding, where he was flown for emergency surgery.

Friends and family said the near-death experience changed not only the victim, Zachary Abblitt, but the people who rescued him.

While the 18-year old was paralyzed below the neck his condition is improving, and he is keeping positive on his road to recovery by using his faith.

November 20, 2020, was a seemingly regular day for 18-year old Brookings man Zachary Abblitt. He was catching some waves with his best friend Daniel Strom. When Strom’s kayak was pulled away from the shore by a wave. Abblitt dove in to save it, but the water wasn’t as deep as he thought.

“Had it been in deeper water he would have been trying out for the Olympic swim team. It was a fantastic dive,” said Strom.

Abblitt fractured part of his vertebrae.

Strom and bystander, Michael Lange both knew something was wrong and jumped in to save him.

“We were trying to keep him stable, but the waves were coming in. And we were in about shin to knee-high water,” said Lange.

Faith being a big part in both Abblitt and Strom’s lives, they all prayed together while awaiting first responders.

“I’m not a paramedic, I’m not a first responder, I have no idea what to do as far as that goes. I leave that to the professionals. But what I can do is at least send out my prayers and best wishes for this man,” said Lange.

Abblitt was flown to Mercy Medical Center in Redding where his family tells us he’s had multiple surgeries.

“The number one thing that he wants people to know is that he is excited to see what the Lord is going to do in his life through this experience,” said Kevin Knoll.

Abblitt’s uncle says he’s a fighter and will continue to focus on the light. even in the darkest of times.

Ablitt’s family says he can move his arms but has trouble moving his fingers.

The family has set up a fundraiser click HERE for more information.┬áThe family told NBC5 if you can’t give, please pray and keep Zachary in your thoughts.

*KOBI-TV NBC5 does not guarantee money deposited to this account will be applied for the benefit of the person or persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering making a donation, you should consult your own advisors, and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Katie Streit
NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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