FORT THOMAS, Ky. (FOX19) - A Northern Kentucky couple is counting every blessing right now after a freak accident left Chris MacKay paralyzed from the neck down. Two days later, incredibly, they got married.
So how’d they do it?
MacKay is at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Fort Thomas, where he’s improved dramatically since an accident May 19 which at the time left him paralyzed from the neck down. Now he can move a good portion of his upper body and his arms somewhat, but not his fingers with any dexterity.
Before he underwent surgery at UC Medical Center, he married his sweetheart Ashley right there, in the ICU.
She’s the burger to his dog. He’s the Mickey to her Minnie. Two nurses at St. E’s in Edgewood, who met at work and fell in love.
“When you guys met in the hospital, was it love at first sight?” we asked.
“Maybe for him!” Ashley giggled. “I’m just kidding!”
They were great friends for a few years, but then it got serious. Chris, 26, said just this week they would have been on vacation, where he planned to pop the question. But May 19, their lives changed forever when Chris tried to show a neighbor kid a fancy parkour move.
“And he was jumping around, landing on his ankles and I was like, you need to roll outta that like a safety roll, like a somersault you do as a kid,” said Chris, who then demonstrated how it could safely be done. “And I jumped off our porch, like the second step, landed on my feet and went to do a roll and landed on something and my neck or something just couldn’t take the pressure and I broke my C5 vertebrae and instantly was nothing, from the neck down.”
At first, he said he thought he just had the wind knocked out of him.
He was flown by AirCare to UC and went into surgery.
“The doctor that did it was very excited when I woke up the next day,” Chris said. “I could lift my arms and move them -- some people don’t get that for months.”
But before any more surgery they made a bold decision, just two days after the accident.
“We’d already had thoughts that we knew we were going to spend our lives together, I just think we shouldn’t wait, we should get married in here,” Ashley said.
There have been several setbacks, but they’re taking life and his progress one day at a time. Chris heads to Louisville soon to get some intense physical therapy. Their goal is to dance together with family and friends at a wedding celebration to their favorite song, “A Whole New World” from the “Aladdin” soundtrack.
“It’s definitely a different start to a marriage, but we’ll get there, it just makes it unique,” said Ashley. “We have a tremendous amount of support from family and friends and just keeping our faith in God, basically gets us through it. I wouldn’t be able to get through it without him.”
Their goal is $100,000 to retrofit their ranch home into a more wheelchair-accessible space. Right now, the 1960s doorways are too narrow and the bathroom would have to be made bigger.
Chris and Ashley are determined he will walk again.