California man paralyzed after body surfing accident at Sandy Beach

A surprise Hawaiian vacation meant to be a fun couples trip was anything but — a California man is now paralyzed and confined to a hospital bed in Hawaii after an ocean accident in the ocean left him with serious injuries to his spine and neck.

Mike Droter and his girlfriend live together in Citrus Heights and recently started traveling, visiting beaches all over the state and even Mexico. So going to Hawaii was a vacation they were both looking forward to.

Now they’re stuck there.

It was the end to a surprise birthday trip Droter planned for his girlfriend Jordan Lovas.

Lovas said Droter jumped in the water at Sandy Beach one last time to body surf. But when the waves crashed over him, the 30-year-old broke his neck.

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Lovas said. “He had absolutely no color in his body, no color in his fingertips, toes, and his eyes were completely rolled back.”

Ten days after the accident, Droter is still in the intensive care unit at a Honolulu hospital. Doctors say he broke two vertebrae in his neck and injured his spinal cord. He’s paralyzed from the neck down and can’t even breathe on his own.

As rough as his road to recovery will be, Droter is awake, alert and can communicate by whispering.

Back home in Citrus Heights, his family and friends are trying to cope with the tragedy. “I’m still in shock,” said Shaun Deitzel. “I don’t want to believe it ’cause he’s so full of life, he’s so energetic.”

Deitzel lives with the couple and being inside the empty house isn’t easy. “I’m hoping he comes home, walk through the door, and everything will be OK.”

But with support in Hawaii and in California, Deitzel says his best friend isn’t giving up hope. “He’s been in high spirits and he wants to fight.”

A gofundme account has been set up for Droter’s recovery fund, and at last count, close to $17,000 had been raised since Aug. 29, in hopes of reaching a $50,000 goal.

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