A San Diego teen is facing a long road to recovery after failing an attempt at a 32-foot jump on his mountain bike in Mission Trails Regional Park.
The ICU at Sharp Memorial Hospital has been home to Alex Uppenkamp for the past 34 days. The 18-year-old was paralyzed from the shoulders down in the crash, but he and his family aren’t accepting that as final.
On Tuesday, he and his family are scheduled to meet with some of the best spinal cord doctors in the country at Craig Hospital in Colorado.
Alex Uppenkamp’s father, Mike Uppenkamp, told NBC 7 his youngest son enjoys anything and everything outdoors. Surfing, rock climbing, and mountain biking are a few of his hobbies.
He retold the story of the Aug. 5 phone call he received from his wife when his son was hurt attempting the big jump.
“My wife said, ‘Don't panic. Alex has been in a serious accident and he's in the ER,’” he recalled.
Daring jumps aren’t anything new to Alex Uppenkamp, according to his father.
“He's been all over this park; 15-20 feet in the air doing jumps on his bike. That's what he does,” Mike Uppenkamp said.
The jump Alex Uppenkamp was attempting to conquer that day is near the Santee boulders.
"His front tire landed right there. His bike went underneath him and his head landed right here. Then you see the bushes over here where they're matted down, that's where he landed,” Mike Uppenkamp explained.
Alex Uppenkamp broke three vertebrae and was paralyzed instantly.
"My son's an amazing kid and he's pushing through something that is the most challenging thing I've ever had to go through. And he hasn't been able to process it quite yet. There's still a huge path in front of us,” his father said.
Mike Uppenkamp said he and his family will live in Colorado for the next three months while Alex Uppenkamp sees specialists, but he said no matter where they are, the outdoors will always be their special place.
“I hope that we can redo this in a year and have Alex ride down that mountain behind me. That would be my hope,” Mike said.
Mike said he only knows of one other person who has attempted the jump Alex went off. He says that person also crashed but luckily was able to walk away.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help fund Alex’s recovery.