Oregon City man paralyzed by sneaker wave thankful for community - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon City man paralyzed by sneaker wave thankful for community support

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Bill Hilbert and his wife Vicki (KPTV) Bill Hilbert and his wife Vicki (KPTV)

An Oregon City man paralyzed after an accident on a beach in Maui is back home.

Bill Hilbert was on vacation with his family last April when they went out to the enjoy a day at the beach. 

Bill says everything was going great until a sneaker wave changed his life forever. 

"That is where that wave got me," Bill Hilbert said. "Just picked me up and threw me down on my face."

Bill broke his neck and back leaving him lifeless and paralyzed in the surf. His wife Vicki says for eight minutes he laid lifeless on the beach as lifeguards performed CPR.

"I just said 'wake up Bill, wake up Bill, fight, fight, Bill come back'," Vicki Hilbert said. 

Bill was taken to a local hospital and then airlifted to Honolulu.

"From then on it was touch and go for about two weeks if I would live or die," Bill Hilbert said. 

He spent several weeks healing and stranded on the tropical island. A medical flight back to the mainland would cost $70,000 to $90,000, money the Hilbert's didn't have. 

That's when they turned to crowdfunding. In a matter of days Bill's story spread, and thousands of dollars were donated to fly this Marine and Vietnam veteran to a hospital in Seattle.

"We were shocked at the response," Bill said. 

He says it was the power of prayer and his deep Christian faith that has brought him back home. 

On Tuesday he made the trip to Oregon City from that Seattle hospital room months after the accident on that Hawaiian beach. 

"I believe God kept me alive for a reason, and I believe He will raise me back up for a reason," Bill Hilbert said. 

His spirit remains positive and optimistic, because oddly the memory of that April day not only changed their lives but has inspired thousands of others. 

"I am overwhelmed, I mean I am overwhelmed and I will forever be grateful," Bill Hilbert said.

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