Teen able to walk again after Jones Beach swimming accident

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Stacey Sager has the story (WABC)

A Long Island teenager who was seriously hurt in a swimming accident is now able to walk again following a remarkable recovery.

Seventeen-year old Nico Fiorello begins his senior year at Seaford High School this week, against all odds. It was only three and a half months ago that Nico was motionless in a hospital bed after he dove into the water at Jones Beach, unknowingly hitting a sandbar and breaking his neck.

"I dove in, and then I hit the ground on my head," he said. "And then after that, I just couldn't move anything."

It was unclear if he'd ever regain full use of his legs. But now, thanks to his doctors, he has begun taking steps.

"I was like, Oh My God, he's never going to walk again," mom Loraine Fiorello said. "What am I going to do? He's 17. This can't be. Not my baby."

The saving grace is that he was rescued and treated immediately, and doctors at Nassau University Medical Center began operating shortly after. They say Nico had broken two bones in his neck, and that one fragment was piercing his spinal cord.

"If you remove the bone right here, and then we put what's called a cage in there and fused it," neurology director Dr. Elizabeth Fontana said. "So that he has now, a plate, in the front."

There was also a second surgery to repair the other bone, but there was no guarantee Nico would ever walk again. In fact, his doctor says that for every one patient like him, there are about 100 others who don't walk.

"He's just made incredible strides that I'm totally, totally thrilled," Dr. Fontana said.

They say virtually no one with his injuries can walk without any assistance, and Nico just hopes others hear his story to understand the power of positive thinking.

"I started getting strength back in other parts of my body," he said. "Which started getting me thinking I'm going to be getting back to my normal self again."
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jones beachswimminghospitalEast Meadows
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