Eungai Creek local Jake Tasker’s heroic act to dive into the water to save an unconscious friend turned into the devastating moment that changed his life forever.
Mr Tasker was on a couple’s retreat on a houseboat on the Nambucca River to celebrate Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend and another couple when he heard screams before he noticed his friend motionless in the water.
“I saw Troy floating face down and my instant reaction was to try and save him,” Mr Tasker told the Argus.
“I dove in and felt my neck pop and I knew I had broken my neck so I rolled in the water onto my back and my partner supported me.”
Mr Tasker struck a sandbank and broke his neck in two places.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicpoter was dispatched to the location and Mr Tasker was flown to Brisbane Royal Hospital where he was operated on for 10 hours and placed in an induced coma.
Doctors diagnosed Mr Tasker as a quadriplegic and said he would never walk again.
However, in the eight months since the accident, the 29-year-old has regained full movement in his hands and arms while he can move his right leg and foot.
It’s a positive sign for Mr Tasker and he hopes to improve his mobility further by attending the specialist spinal cord injury recovery centre ‘Making Strides’ located at Burleigh Heads.
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To help with the costs, Westpac’s staff has worked hard fundraising for months and they presented him with a cheque for $18,579 on Monday.
Mr Tasker was overwhelmed with help provided to him.
“It would be very difficult without the support of family, friends and the community,” he said.
“I am very thankful for the ongoing support of everyone.”
Mr Tasker spent more than three months in a hospital bed before he commenced two months of rehab at the Royal Rehab.
“I am quite happy with how far I have come,” Mr Tasker said.
“They initially said I wouldn’t be able to use my fingers on a keyboard and now I have full movement of my hands.
“I am hoping to one day walk again and prove the doctors wrong, to show that it is possible.”
With the movement restored in his hands and arms, Mr Tasker has been able to regain his drivers license as he can use hand controls to accelerate and brake.
“It’s good to be back behind the wheel and on the weekend I was back in a rally car for the first time, it was an awesome feeling and I can’t wait to get out there again,” Mr Tasker said.