Fomer Geelong VFL player Casey Tutungi will never be able to walk or use his arms again after a freak on-field accident in a local football match, his family have confirmed.
The 27-year-old injured his spine during a rare on-field accident against St Joseph’s in June 2013.
Tutungi’s father Chris said the life of his son – who is expecting his first child with his fiance Bridget in November – was permanently changed.
“The medical staff at the hospital gave us the prognosis no parent of an active, strong, vital 27-year-old wants to hear,” Mr Tutungi said with his wife Carol in a statement.
Tutungi, who is in the Austin Hospital, fractured and dislocated his C4 and C5 vertebrae, which had compressed his spinal cord and caused swelling.
He injured his spine during an on-field collision with an opposition player in the last minutes of the game, reportedly flopping backwards to the ground and screaming that he could not feel anything.
”Casey loves football. Ever since he pulled on his first pair of boots for the Lorne Football Club as a junior, he has lived for the game,” the Tutungi family said.
Although such injuries are rare in Australian rules football, several have happened in recent decades.
In July last year, country South Australian footballer Trent Rothall fractured his C4 and C5 vertebrae during an on-field accident.
After being confirmed a quadriplegic, the 21-year-old Kingston player has reportedly regained some movement in both his arms.
Rothall’s accident came weeks after Gippsland footballer Beau Vernon suffered a similar injury.
The 2011 best-and-fairest for Leongatha Parrots was left with C5-C6 quadriplegia after an onfield clash against Wonthaggi.
Despite his injury, the 23-year-old is determined to live a normal life. “The support I have received from family, friends and even people I haven’t met has been unbelievable,” Vernon wrote on his website.
“I just want to show you all what you have helped me achieve and that I’m going to live a normal and happy life, even if it is in a chair.”
In 1975, former Footscray footballer Neil Sachse was left a quadriplegic after an accidental collision with Fitzroy player, Kevin O’Keeffe.
Tutungi’s family has set up a trust to help pay for medical equipment. Anyone wishing to donate can visit caseytutungi.com or visit any branch of the Bendigo Bank and donate to the Casey Tutungi Future Fund.
How To Help
- Donate! See below..
- Read More at www.caseytutungi.com
The Casey Tutungi Future Fund
All funds will assist in providing Casey with the essential equipment he will require. All donations will be held in a Bendigo Bank Trust Account.
Donations can be paid directly into the Bendigo Bank Trust account:
- Casey Tutungi Future Fund
BSB: 633 000
Account: 149 834 533