A Special Forces soldier left paralyzed from the neck down after diving into stormy waves off Florida to save a young girl from drowning is determined to walk again.
Sgt. 1st Class Tim Brumit, 32, broke his neck in the tragic July 26 accident, but now the father of two and a Bronze Star recipient is hoping to resume a normal life through his family’s willpower, spiritual faith and the healing hands of his doctors, the Military Times reported Saturday.
“We’re not built to lay down and die,” his father Randy Brumit, a retired Army chief warrant officer who also served in Special Forces, told the newspaper. “When he showed up to the hospital, he was totally paralyzed from the neck down, and expected to remain that way for the rest of his life. That’s what we were told.”
Instead, emergency surgeries have enabled Brumit to regain the use of his arms while he amazes physical therapists with his dedication and hard work during rehab, the newspaper said.
The Green Beret dove off a pontoon boat anchored off a beach community near his post at Eglin Air Force Base when he heard cries for help and spotted a young girl, 13, struggling in surf roiled by heavy winds and pelting rain. Brumit dove in without giving it a second thought.
The Times said Brumit later told media he misjudged the waves passing under his boat, not realizing how shallow the water was at that spot.
After his head hit the sand, a fellow soldier pulled Brumit’s body onto a surfboard to wait for help. Other boaters saved the girl.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Colby Maher has been treating Brumit at the Baptist Hospital in Pensacola. He is being moved in the next few days to the Atlanta Spine Center.
The Times said Brumit has served 8 years with 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and has earned his Special Forces Tab.
Throughout his recovery, he has embraced the family motto instilled by his father: “what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve.”
“That’s how we special operations guys look at it. He challenged the physical therapist, ‘What’s your record? I’ll beat it,’” Randy Brumit told the Times.
He said his son has told his surgeon from his bed, “I’m going to walk back in and shake your hand and thank you for what you’ve done with me.”
According to the Times, Randy Brumit knows that seeing his son walk again is "very far away." He has created a Facebook page to provide updates on his son.
“Tim hard at work in focused rehab doing neck and shoulder workouts,” the father reported Sunday. He said his son was also doing sitting triceps and shoulder weight workouts.
“His attitude remains positive and is loving the hard workouts,” the report said.