Father Hopes He'll Walk Again After Freak Wave on Beach Left Him Paralyzed
A Georgia man has been left paralyzed after he was hit by a wave in a freak accident at the beach.
Stephen Franke, 54, is currently living at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where he undergoes physical therapy every day, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"Every day gets better," Franke told InsideEdition.com. "I am going to assume there are challenging days, but I haven't had them yet."
Doctors are optimistic he will regain some level of mobility, but his daughter Abby, who found his body limp in the sand, said timidly, "I don't know if I'm going to watch him surf again. I'm not sure, I'm kind of scared now."
It all started three weeks ago when the father of four was enjoying an extended reunion with 50 members of his family at Orange Beach, Alabama.
He said he remembered his head hitting the sandbar and the waves dragging him along the sand.
Franke said he tried to pull himself out of the wave twice, but couldn't feel his body move.
"I realized I got paralyzed," Franke said.
He then tried to yell to his 18-year-old daughter, but since water clogged his throat, Abby said she couldn't hear it.
When she found him, she said, "I was really scared. I thought I was going to lose him."
The family escorted Franke to a hospital in Pensacola. He was immediately rushed into surgery.
"The impact of that wave, I ruptured my third vertebra and crashed into my fourth vertebra," he said.
Since the July accident, Franke said he is scheduled to continue physical therapy and continue his long-term stay at the hospital until early October.
The family has since set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical bills.
Franke told InsideEdition.com that despite the grim circumstances, he's still trying to stay positive.
"The alternative is not going to help me," he said.