“It’s surreal. It’s like someone else’s life.”
One decision can change your life. A simple action can derail the goals you’ve worked years to achieve. The Hogg family knows this all too well.
In March of 2018, Jared Hogg was a high school senior enjoying his spring break.
“We wanted to go to the beach, as everyone does, it’s spring break,” Jared told First Coast News.
The then-17-year-old spent the day at the Guana Reserve beach with three friends. When it was time to leave, he dove into the ocean to rinse off.
Jared wound up face-down in the water, unable to roll over. He was unable to move at all.
“I thought this was my last moment,” Jared said. “I thought I was gonna drown and I’m thankful I didn’t.”
Jared unknowingly dove head-first into a sandbar. His best friend pulled him from the water and a stranger helped them call 911. The teen was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville.
“When the EMT’s got there, I knew instantly I was paralyzed,” Jared said.
Meanwhile, Jared’s parents received a broken text message from one of Jared’s friends and instantly knew something terrible had happened.
“We both felt that instant panic of, something’s wrong we need to get to the hospital,” Christopher Hogg, Jared’s father, said.
“It’s surreal,” Jared’s mother, Laura, said. “It’s like someone else’s life.
Chris and Laura made it to the hospital in time to hear their son say “I love you” before he was intubated and taken to surgery.
The next time they saw their son, he was covered in a tangle of tubes. The family’s old life was gone.
“I had this bright, blue-eyed boy who was constantly smiling, even through all of those wires,” Laura said. “And then to have somebody come in and say ‘hey son, sorry, you’re not gonna walk again,’ was very, very painful.”
“I’m gonna be happy no matter where I’m at.”
Jared initially couldn’t breathe, eat or go to the bathroom on his own. Laura quit her job to take care of her son full-time.
“It’s like having a newborn in an adult body, almost,” she said.
Jared requires constant care from around 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The family is working to remodel their home to accommodate Jared, but still faces some difficulty. For example, the chair Jared currently uses for showering doesn’t fit in the bathroom, so his parents need to bathe him in a makeshift outdoor shower.
Despite everything, one look at Jared tells you he’s not giving up. With the support of his friends, family and intense physical therapy, Jared graduated from Mandarin High School on time.
In the past month, Jared has regained the use of his arms. He attends rehab at Brooks five days a week and refuses to believe that he’ll never walk again.
“I don’t know how long it’s gonna take, but with the gains I have in six months I’m fairly positive it’s gonna happen,” Jared said. “I know my future is…I’m gonna be happy no matter where I’m at.”
The Hogg family never expected to be in this situation. But then again, no one does.
“We were aware of the beauty of the ocean, the dangers of the ocean, but a split-second ‘I’m being a kid, I’m being a teenager,’ just changed his life forever,” Laura said.
If you want to help Jared’s recovery, click here.