Burlington teen paralyzed in diving accident in Puerto Rico on road to recovery

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- It's been three months since a Burlington teen was paralyzed from the chest down while on his senior school trip. Andrew Hartle hit his head on a rock, after diving into the ocean in Puerto Rico. Ninety days later, Andrew is still on the road to recovery.

"It's just been hard to get back what I had before or at least try to get back what I had before," Andrew said. "Just a lot of therapy. A lot of support from my friends and family that's helped me through this process."

The Burlington School senior and class president said the hardships brought doubts initially, but his health has taken a remarkable turn.

"I'm feeding myself, breathing on my own. I also got my wrists back which is good and so I can feed myself and help get dressed, so that's been really good," Andrew said.

Through intense physical therapy, he's even been able to go back to his first love, playing the drums.

"It feels really good because a lot of hard work has gone into it and it's something I can be proud of," he said.

He said none of these improvements would have happened without his two biggest supporters.

"Sometimes people just give up and I've rode him along a little bit but for the most part he's just taken this on like he did with competitive swimming," said Amy Hartle, his mom. "He takes this as a job everyday."

And it's Andrew's positive outlook that makes healing a little easier.

"I could be mad at the world and upset at everything. But why be like that when you can look at the positives. It's a lot easier to do that," he said.

With the new year coming up, Andrew has a few resolutions he looks forward to achieving.

"Be more independent. I'd like to be able to live on my own. And I'd also like to go to college like I'd planned before the accident."

He also looks forward to graduating with his senior class this spring.

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