Burlington teen paralyzed in diving accident in Puerto Rico returns to school

BURLINGTON, N.C. — A teenager, who was paralyzed form the chest down while on his senior school trip, will finally return to school.

Back in September 2018, Andrew Hartle hit his head on a rock after diving into the ocean in Puerto Rico.

His parents confirmed Tuesday that Andrew would be back in school that day.

Recovery was a long battle that took the teen more than four months.

"It's just been hard to get back what I had before or at least try to get back what I had before," Andrew previously 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 took a remarkable turn.

Through intense physical therapy, he was able to get 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.

Just before the new year, Andrew said he had 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.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.