UPDATE: Chesterfield teen paralyzed after accident in Panama

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – A Chesterfield teenager paralyzed in a freak accident went back into surgery Wednesday morning.  Family members of 18-year old Kasey Crute say doctors in Panama are working to repair spinal discs that shattered when Crute jumped into a watering hole in while playing with children in a Panama village.

The Matoaca High School gradate and UVA student became paralyzed Thursday, March 10.

For three weeks, Kasey Crute has been confined to a Central American hospital bed unable to move. While her parents are at her bedside, her family in Chesterfield is here preparing for Kasey's return.

Her smile is contagious.  Her will to help others is stronger than most. Kasey Crute was volunteering in Panama over spring break when the UVA freshman was dealt a devastating hand. Her aunt says it came as Kasey was swimming with local children.

"They said she was on a mound and she dove in. And when she came up they knew something was very wrong," said Rene Bickel, Kasey's aunt.

Kasey was pulled from the watering hole by two men who heard children screaming for help. She put on to a piece of wood in the village, and driven eight hours to a hospital in Panama City, which is near the center of the Central American country.

"We're just amazed that she's made it this far," said Rene.

Her back broken; the disc connecting her neck and spine shattered.

"Apparently her blood pressure is extremely low," Rene said.

To make the situation more difficult, Kasey is the only one in her family who speaks Spanish. After hearing the news first, the 18-year old had to tell her parents: she's paralyzed.

"I can't even imagine being there with your mom and dad, talking about your condition that you're in and just the realization," her aunt said.

Too unstable to fly back to the U.S. Kasey must stay in Panama. As medical bills pile up, the Chesterfield family now figuring out how to meet Kasey's needs at home. But with an online presence Kasey's friends show support.

"It's just been overwhelming with the gratitude and support we've been receiving," Rene said.

Kasey has another surgery in Panama Wednesday morning, and is expected to be there for another 10 days. The hope is for her to fly back to UVA Medical Center for treatment.

Kasey's high school friends created a website where you can make a donation to help cover the family's mounting medical bills. To find that website, click here. $2,000 has already been collected.

Kasey Crute and nine others went to Panama with the volunteer group Global Brigades.  They replaced pit latrines with eco-friendly latrines for five families in the community of El Entradero, Panama over Spring Break.

Family members say Crute broke her back and shattered the disc connecting her neck and spine along with the C6, C4 and C5 vertebrae.  She is paralyzed from the chest down.  Crute has had multiple surgeries already.  Crute can breath on her own.

Family members credit U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor with her mother being able to quickly get a passport to be by her daughter's bedside.

For more information or to donate to Kasey Crute:

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