BYMS Alumni Zack Collie: “I would only undo my accident if I kept the way I think now.”


Brittney KincannonKincannon Phot

Photo Courtesy of Amber Collie

At approximately three in the afternoon on May 31, 2010, 15 year old Zack Collie, a freshman at Yorba Linda High School, and BYMS alumni endured a paralyzing injury that would change his life. Six years later, Zack Collie is attending college and living on campus.

My initial response to my accident after it happened was I did not think it was as serious as it was. I thought I would be better, recovered and out of the hospital in two weeks. But overtime it settled in and I realized this is something I am going to have to deal with for the rest of my life,” stated now 21 year old Zack Collie about his initial reaction to his incident.

Zack was at the beach with his friends when he dove underwater. It is thought that he hit a sandbar when he broke his neck, paralyzing himself, reported Approximately 800 spinal cord injuries occur as a result of diving accidents, reported

When Amber Collie, Zack’s mother was asked her reaction to the accident, she said, “When I got the phone call all I knew was there had been an accident and Zack was at the hospital was a hard moment. The next part was arriving to the hospital and seeing my son lying SO still, abnormally still. Next reality was the doctor asking  us to Please sit down. I remember saying, ‘I don’t want to sit, just tell me what you know and don’t sugar coat it’. The doctors words were not good, but at that moment I decided Zack is alive and that’s ALL that matters.”

Zack is considered a C-4  Quadriplegic Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), meaning he broke his neck in the fourth vertebra. This injury has resulted in Zack having no movement from his neck and shoulders down.

Zack’s injury has not stopped him from pursuing his education. Zack, Cal State Fullerton student says his greatest accomplishments since his accident have been, “…graduating high school with my same class and all my friends and ‘walking’ to get my diploma. Also, getting accepted to a four-year college and living on campus.”

Zack says his next goal is, “To graduate college, get my bachelors degree and get my first job (ever) so I can start making money to support myself.”

Both Zack’s mother and younger brother, Kaden Collie, current seventh grade BYMS student said, “It changed Zack from being rough and always joking around to being totally dependent on us to help him with everything, but he still has his original personality,” when asked how this accident changed him.

Although Zack has had challenges such as losing his independence, and having to depend on others to assist with everyday tasks as simple as being helped out of bed, getting food prepared for him, and having his teeth brushed. Mrs. Collie stated, “Watching your child struggle with life’s simplest tasks is very hard to watch. But to see how far he’s come, reaching small and large goals makes me so proud of him. Making the best he can out of a terrible situation. I know he can achieve whatever he puts his mind to.”

Zack says, “I would only undo my accident if I kept the way I think now. If I had to go back to my old self and not have had my accident I would not do it.”

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