SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah teenager is in the intensive care unit at Primary Children's Hospital after a severe injury to his cervical spinal cord during a high school football game last week.
Jalen Sutton, 17, lost feeling and function in his arms and everything below his chest area after the injury, which involved the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck.
He underwent surgery and has since regained feeling in his feet, hands, arms and abdomen, and he has some movement in his right arm, according to his family.
Sutton was injured when he went to make a tackle during the Alta High School's junior varsity game at Stansbury High School.
"From the stands, you could hear it more than you could see it. It was kind of in a little bit of a scrum," said Tyson Forbes, a neighbor and family friend of Sutton's. "Jalen plays fast and free. He does not hold anything back. He went in for a tackle — it actually was a great tackle, but the other kid was coming hard too."
Forbes said Sutton's surgery involved putting a plate in his neck, and he has been on a ventilator to assist his breathing.
"He's making progress, but there's definitely a long road ahead of him," Forbes said.
A GoFundMe has been set up by his aunt that's raising money to help his family with the medical expenses.
"It's amazing how much support we've gotten," Forbes said. "It truly has kind of transcended the game to see the support come out for this young man. It's a football family at Alta, but when it comes to things like this, I believe the football family is state-wide and nationwide."