UVA student paralyzed in Panama returns home to Chesterfield

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A special homecoming for a UVA student paralyzed during a spring break trip to Panama.

19 year old Kasey Crute arrived late today in Chester. She's been in rehab in Atlanta, Georgia since May.

Kasey is staying with her aunt and uncle right now. We caught up with her moments after she arrived from the airport.

"Definitely glad to be here I've been in the hospital for five months now yeah so I'm really glad to be here and be around my family," said Crute.

Kasey had no idea that her friends would be here for the homecoming. Her family kept a surprise party under wraps!

Kasey also wasn't aware, until now, what her family has done to get her room here ready because she's not able to return to her mom's house.

An overwhelmed and exhausted Kasey Crute is finally home. She arrived from the airport in a van tailored to her needs.

The UVA freshman has been at a Georgia rehabilitation facility since May, working to regain muscle strength and mentally preparing herself for life outside a hospital room.

"In the hospital I saw people worse off than even I was I realize how lucky I was to have what I do so that's motivating me my family," said Crute.

Kasey is paralyzed from the chest down. She broke her back in Panama during a spring break trip where she helped build eco-friendly toilets for villagers.

Her world changed March 10th when she dove into a watering hole.

"I just hope that things will get easier and hopefully I can get more function back," said Crute.
Dave and Rene Bickel turned their formal dining room into a temporary bedroom for Kasey.

It's furnished with special furniture and medical equipment donated or bought with money collected from friends and family.

"We did it all within a few days just like the accident happened things changed so quickly," said Bickel.

"It's set up really nice that used to be the dining room where we had Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Crute.

The Bickels have transformed their back deck into a makeshift shower for Kasey.  They'll hang special curtains from this canopy to give her privacy.

An estimated $65,000 in renovations aren't yet complete at her mom's house.

"This just went up in the last two or three weeks," said Bickel.
Wheelchair ramps at both the front and back doors.

What was the living room will soon look like a small apartment.  The back deck was torn down to create a bathroom.

"She's at that age where they're concerned about their looks privacy all that so it's a fine balance," said Bickel.

The renovations won't be complete for another three to five months.  So Kasey will stay at her uncle's for the time being.

Crute's family is still raising money for her medical expenses.

Kasey will need a caregiver and rehab treatments three to four times a week.

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