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'He is fighting for his life every minute': Seattle man in ICU after breaking his neck swimming in Mexico

Evan Griffis is not expected to be able to walk again, but with physical therapy will likely be able to use his arms.

PUERTO VALLARTA, Jalisco — A Seattle man is fighting for his life in a hospital in Mexico and it all started with a swim. 

“It's hard. Seeing your brother in the ICU hooked up, telling him you love him just in case," said Adam Griffis. "I would not wish that on anyone."

Griffis’s brother Evan is fighting for his life in a Puerto Vallarta hospital. The 30-year-old was swimming in the ocean Sunday when he was hit by a wave and broke his neck.

“It must be a fluke accident. a wave struck him from behind, and immediately thrust him to the seafloor, where he hit his head, fractured two vertebrae,” Griffis said.

Adam said his brother did not suffer brain damage and is able to understand what’s going on and being said to him.

“Evan is so strong and he's such a good swimmer," Griffis said. "You just don't think of it, you don't expect it. And when it happens, your whole world turns upside down pretty quickly."

Evan was rushed to the hospital and underwent a successful 11-hour spinal surgery and his family rushed to his side from Seattle.

“He remains in the ICU with an incredible amount of swelling in and around his spinal cord that still threatens his life, to this moment,” Griffis said.

Doctors told his family Evan has a 70% chance of survival, but in the long term is not expected to ever walk again. With physical therapy, Evan will likely be able to use his arms. 

Griffis said his brother is still in good spirits.

“Evan has been a champion through it all, and getting to say I love you to my brother meant the world to me this morning and have him look me in the eyes meant absolutely the world,” Griffis said.

Griffis said his brother Evan is an avid traveler and went to Puerto Vallarta to celebrate Pride.

The Griffis family has already received tens of thousands of dollars in donations to help cover medical costs. 

“Honestly it's incredible to see just all the communities in Evan's life come together to help him and I think it's somewhat of a celebration of him, and we're just fighting with him,” Griffis said.

Evan is expected to be in the ICU for a week. The next step is for him to start breathing on his own. His family is confident he will recover and be home soon. Griffis is confident his brother will still be able to officiate his wedding in August. 

“We got quite a long journey ahead. but as a family, we're gonna get through it for the years to come,” Griffis said.

The family set up a fundraiser to help cover medical expenses.

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