Massachusetts teen suffers spinal cord injury during hockey tournament


BOSTON (WPRI) — A Massachusetts teen was rushed to the hospital this weekend after suffering a spinal cord injury while playing in a hockey tournament.

Jake Thibeault, 18, of Fitchburg, plays hockey for Milton Academy and a private club called the Boston Bulldogs.

During a tournament over the holiday weekend, Jake’s father Mike Thibeault said his son crashed back first into the boards, and when he landed, he couldn’t move from the waist down.

Jake’s accident comes less than a year after 19-year-old AJ Quetta suffered a similar injury during a high school hockey game.

Quetta is also paralyzed from the chest down, but he tells 12 News he’s determined to walk again.

“You know, I’m making progress every single day getting stronger and getting a little bit closer to that finish line at the end of the marathon,” Quetta said.

And Jake is just as determined to walk again, despite his grim diagnosis, according to Mike.

“This spinal cord surgeon came in and told him the extent of his injuries and he simply turned to him and said he’s ready to fight,” Mike said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of him and it’s how he feels,” he continued. “We’re not naïve. We know it’s a tough road ahead and we know he’s going to have some ups and down.”

Jake is scheduled to undergo surgery for his injury at UMass Memorial Hospital.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Jake’s medical expenses. So far, it’s raised more than $290,000, which is already $40,000 over the fundraiser’s initial goal.

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