Local man paralyzed, stuck in Hawaii after surfing accident

Local man paralyzed, stuck in Hawaii after surfing accident »Play Video
Todd Duitsman
STANWOOD, Wash. -- A Stanwood man is stranded in Hawaii after a body surfing accident left him paralyzed.

Todd Duitsman's family is pleading for help to bring the injured man home, and they say it will take $50,000 to do that.

What was supposed to be an extraordinary Maui vacation with family and friends suddenly took a dramatic and devastating turn in the surf. As Todd Duitsman was body surfing in the ocean, a wave knocked him to the point.

He suffered a severe back injury and was paralyzed.

"Just to see that look on his face, I said, 'Are you kidding?' and he goes, 'No, man, I can't move," said friend Bary Gould.

The accident was devastating for Duitsman's family.

"As a son, you never want to hear that anyway, but to hear that your dad might not walk again -- that's tough," said his son,Tyler.

But Duitsman's attitude toward life, the fact there are more smiles than tears, is exactly how he's handling his future.

"We got news that he wiggled his toes a couple of days ago, so those things maybe weren't supposed to happen and now they kind of are, so we're really inspired by that," Gould said.

Duitsman's own inspiration is fed by the thousands of posts of support on Facebook as he sends thank yous in videos from his hospital bed.

"All you people out there praying for me, that's the biggest thing you can do. I thank you so much and I look forward to seeing you guys and chatting with you and continuing to get better," he said in one recent message.

To help him do that, the Stanwood community is raising money to help with his medical costs and to pay for the nearly $50,000 air ambulance home.

"I just think it's an incredible tribute to who he is," Gould said of the community support. "If you've met him even once then you remember him."

Duitsman's children feel confident their father's positive spirit and the community's love will mean only good things for his road to recovery.

"I think it's just his will power and determination. When he sets his mind to something, he always wants to do it and do it with the best attitude possible, so I think having a positive attitude will get him through," said his daughter, Hailey Duitsman.

Tyler also has faith that his father will prevail.

"From when we were holding his hands up on the beach, he looked at both Barry and I and said, 'I'm going to walk and I'm going to run again,' and I know he will," Tyler said.

The family is trying to work with their medical insurance company to help with the cost of the trip home. If you'd like to help you can by going to our Problem Solvers page.