FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Alexis Fairchild and her friend, Sidney Good were on vacation in Panama City Beach, Florida when the rope on their parasail snapped from the boat and sent them flying. After hitting a hotel balcony and a set of power lines, the girls landed on an SUV in a parking lot. Amazingly, both girls survived and continue to recover back here in northeast Indiana.
It’s been eight months since that tragic accident, but Fairchild has made incredible progress. She’s walking well, taking classes, and excited to one day graduate.
The video of the accident went viral but Fairchild said she will never watch it. Going parasailing was not something the girls had originally planned on and Fairchild said everything about that day happened very fast.
“It was a bunch of feelings. It wasn’t just one specfic feeling. It was like oh, I’m really excited, but I’m so nervous. It was completely spontaneous. We thought about it in like a minute and within five minutes, we’re walking up to go pay for it. So, it was really fast,” said Fairchild.
A thunderstorm was nearing the area as the girls started getting harnessed for their parasails, but Fairchild said the company didn’t seem worrried about the weather, even after she questioned it.
“You kind of notice that there was like clouds and stuff in the far distance, but you don’t really think about it because it’s Florida weather. It’s kind of like in and out all the time. So, I asked if it was good and they said yes. So, I kinda just assumed that they knew what they were doing,” she said.
Fairchild was on vacation with Sidney Good and her family, so her parents, Angie and Mike, were not in Florida at the time of the accident. In the moments and hours after the accident, she said she felt initially felt very scared and alone.
“Being in Florida, I didn’t have my parents at first. I thought I’m just here by myself, no one cares, it’s just a pity party at first and then you really get in it and you realize there are people that care and I thought I need to get better, I need to get back.”
The Fairchilds were able to get to Florida, and Alexis recalled her first memory of her parents after the accident.
“The first memory I remember is seeing my dad,” she said. “I remember freaking out and needing them and wanting them by my side and then waking up and seeing my dad. At the time, I was getting sick and they told my dad if I get sick again, they’d have to put me back on the tubes and stuff. So, my dad looked at me and screamed in my face, ‘You need to stop puking,’ and I was like ‘Alright dad, I got you.”
Three craniotomies and one spine surgery later, Alexis is thriving. More surgeries may be in her future, but Alexis is done for now. She said she still has a lot of pain, but she’s learning how to deal with it.
“It’s there every day. I think it’s been there ever since July 1st, so I think it’s in the back of my mind all the time. Every now and then, it spirals way out of control and I notice it. When it’s just the constant pain, it’s easy to put it in the back of my mind. I’m okay with it.”
She said she doesn’t like to think about much from that first Monday last July, but she has kept a positive attitude through it all.
“”I live it in my dreams , but it’s something I’m getting better at. I wake up getting sick sometimes just because I get overwhelmed,” she said. “I just think I remember way too much. I remember a lot of it, but it’s just not something I want to think about. Moving forward, I don’t need to continue to remember about something that is always there. It happened. I need to move forward, or it’s going to haunt me forever. My senior year was flipped, my life was flipped, just a lot of things changed, but I’m okay with it more now than I was a couple of months ago.”.
This year was supposed to be Alexis’s senior year at Huntington North. While she isn’t able to attend the high school anymore, she takes classes for about three hours a day at an alternative school in the area.
“I go to speech therapy in the morning, and then I go to an alternative school for as long as I can handle it, but normally it’s about three hours,” said Fairchild.
Fairchild said her senior year is nothing like she would have imagined, but credits her parents for trying to instill a sense of normalcy.
“It’s way different, way more less social. I like talking, I like talking a lot. So, now that I don’t have thousands of people at my school, it’s really weird, very limited and it’s just not what I would expect. My mom and my dad try to make it a big priority to let me have a senior year, but it’s so much harder when I have limitations and my friends don’t. It’s hard because I try to live a life that I used to be able to go and do certain things when I know I can’t. I try and then I just become in pain or I’m just out of my zone. It’s different.”
Since the accident, there has been an outpouring of support from the community, and that’s something Alexis said has given her strength to overcome it all.
“If anything, I feel loved and very cared for. Huntington is such a small town. You would think it is going to get blown over or it’s going to get underwrited, but there are people not even from Huntington, but from Alabama or Washington or just like random places. I don’t think if I wouldn’t have had that support I would’ve been as positive. I think that it was a big push because in the beginning, it was hard to get through it. Then, when you hear and you see everyone coming together and caring, it pushes you.”
NewsChannel 15 has reached out to the other victim, Sidney Good, but has yet to hear a response.