WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The family of a teenage girl, critically injured by a boat propeller, is now speaking out. Witnesses say Gabby DeSouza and a friend were trying to climb into someone’s boat this weekend when a wave knocked the 14 year old girl into the propeller.
Gabby’s uncle, John Whalen, says she’s still in critical but stable condition at Saint Mary’s Trauma Center. Unfortunately, doctors couldn’t save her leg. They had to remove part of her right leg below the knee. Still, her family is thankful Gabby is alive.
“She's very vibrant and aware of her surroundings,” said John Whalen, looking at a picture of his niece. “We could have been without her completely.”
The last several days have been an emotional rollercoaster for John Whalen and his family.
“The emotions run from “thank God that she's alive to we feel bad that she's going to have to rehab and do all these things,” Whalen explained, “but at the end of the day it’s elation. We’re just happy that she's here.”
Whalen knows she almost wasn’t. Saturday, when Gabby was bleeding badly after a boat propeller sliced into leg, paramedics airlifted her to Saint Mary's Trauma Center. Doctors fought to save her, making the difficult decision to amputate part of her right leg Tuesday morning. Still, her family remains optimistic.
“The doctors were very happy that they were able to save more of her leg than they thought,” said Whalen, “so it’s a little lower than they expected to have to remove which is always a blessing for us.”
Support is all around: from gifts like this collage of pictures, to the expert care Gabby is receiving and the outpouring of prayers.
“It's been amazing,” Whalen said. “Between all the thoughts and prayers, it’s overwhelming to our family and we can’t thank everybody enough. There’s no way for us to thank everybody.”
Gabby still faces a long road to recovery with several future surgeries and rehabilitation but she is young and healthy and that will help her progress. Her family also says her personality and spirit will carry her through.
“We know she's going to fight through this and she's going to come out on top like she always does,” said Whalen. “With the support of her family and community, I’m sure that’s going to happen.”
Whalen said that he hopes people remember others are hurting in this tragedy, too. He said his family’s hearts go out to the young man who was driving the boat. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies are talking with him and other witnesses, but they may not know exactly what happened until they can talk with Gabby.
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