HUNTINGTON – An Indiana teenager who survived a horrific parasailing crash in Florida that was captured on home video says she’s staying positive as she relearns how to do basic tasks and deals with pain from her injuries.
Alexis Fairchild, 17, of Huntington and friend Sidney Good of Roanoke were critically injured last July when a rope tethering them to a boat snapped and strong winds slammed them into a condominium building, a power line and a parked car at Panama City Beach.
The Coast Guard said severe weather and the boat’s proximity to shore were major factors in the accident.
Fairchild told the “Today” show Thursday that she remembers almost everything about the crash that left her with broken bones in her spine, a skull fracture and a brain injury.
She’s undergone multiple surgeries and has had to relearn basic tasks such as how to brush her teeth. She’s reading at a fourth-grade level and attends an alternative school.
“My life was pretty much ripped away from me and I’m just relearning everything. Of course I’m sad all the time, but that doesn’t mean I have to show it,” she said. “My parents see a lot of the hurt and the pain but outside of my house, I’m happy.”
Doctors feared she’d never walk again, but today Fairchild can walk slowly and has seen her balance improve. She still has significant pain, especially in her back.
She said she still has nightmares about the accident.
“I think it’s because I remember so much,” she said. “I don’t go into deep sleep. It’s like my mind doesn’t allow me to shut off.”
Fairchild said she has never seen the video of the crash and doesn’t plan to.
“I mean, I lived it,” she said.
Instead, she’s staying focused on her recovery.
“I would love to be able to graduate and walk with my class. If I don’t graduate that’s fine, but I want to be able to walk with my class that I grew up with,” she said.
Her parents, who have sued the parasailing company, say they are impressed by their daughter’s determination and outlook.
“I knew she was tough, but not this tough,” Mike Fairchild said.