‘I realized I couldn’t move’: Minor surfing injury leaves man on honeymoon paralyzed

A minor surfing injury reportedly has left a man on his honeymoon paralyzed. (Source: KHNL)
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:53 PM CDT
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HONOLULU (KHNL/Gray News) - A honeymoon trip to Hawaii unfortunately took a sudden and tragic turn for a couple visiting the island.

Brendan Town and his wife Cho Park recently came to Hawaii for a dream honeymoon. After spending their first week on Oahu, their next stop was a trip to the Big Island.

Last Thursday, Town signed up for a surf lesson in Kona, which got off to a thrilling start.

“So exciting, the adrenaline was building up,” he said. “And I heard them shouting to pop up. So, I did but then I felt a tiny little twinge in my back. I was like, ‘Oh, I might have pulled a muscle or something, nothing major.’ So, I rode the wave out, jumped off the board, swam around, and had fun.”

Initially, everything seemed OK as Town said he surfed for an hour before meeting his wife for lunch.

“We had pizza, we ate, and we were ready to pay and leave, but then I realized I couldn’t move,” Town said. “I tried to stand up again but I just slumped right back down into the chair.”

Town said he immediately went to the emergency room, where doctors diagnosed him with surfer’s myelopathy, a rare non-traumatic spinal cord injury due to hyperextension of the lower back.

He’s now confined to a wheelchair and paralyzed from the waist down.

What’s baffling is it seemed like just a minor tweak.

“I’ve been hit by a car biking in Atlanta and that was insanity. I literally popped up and nothing was wrong with me,” he said. “This was just the tiniest little pinch and then the time started ticking and before I knew it, I just couldn’t move.”

His life was completely changed in an instant, but Town said he is staying positive while being determined to recover for his wife and their baby boy due in a few months.

“The hardest part of this is not being able to be there for her how I’m normally there,” Town said. “Now she has to be there for me and that puts strain and pressure that’s just not needed.”

According to Town, he has been told that recovery time for this type of injury varies. He has started physical therapy and says he’s feeling a bit stronger.

“I know that I’m going to get better one way or another,” Town said. “Even if I’m in a wheelchair, that’s not going to slow me down from being the greatest papa in the world.”

The couple says they are flying back to Atlanta soon and have since started a GoFundMe to help raise funds for his expenses.