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July 19, 2007
DISASTER AND ACCIDENT
Tragic turn for skillful swimmer
EDMONDS, Washington (STPNS) -- A stunning mishap has left a popular Edmonds-Woodway High School alum paralyzed after he struck the bottom of a swimming pool last week.
Brendon McCallum, 27, was cooling off on the hottest day of the year so far ? Wednesday, July 11 ? when stark tragedy intruded on his young life.
Adept in the water, he had been a fixture on the EWHS swim team and won many awards, recalls his mother, Marni Muir. She says he had spent that fateful day on a lake with friends.
Afterward they returned to his Bothell apartment complex for a barbecue and a swim.
?Brendon had extensive training in swimming, diving and triathlon training for competition,? Marni Muir says. ?But when he dove into the swimming pool, he broke his neck in two places.?
What followed was sheer terror. His mother says Brendon lay on the floor of the pool fully conscious, but unable to move.
?Please, God, send someone to get me or I?m going to die? ? these were his thoughts as he lay stricken, he later told his mother.
Two friends, Carson Espinoza and Kim Chitwood, sensed the desperate nature of the crisis and went into the pool after him. Brendon was unconscious when they brought him to the surface.
Kim Chitwood, experienced in CPR, managed to resuscitate him with a heroic effort. Within minutes a medic crew arrived and rushed the stricken man to Harborview Medical Center.
Marni Muir says, ?It was determined by the attending physician and neurological team that his form of fracture was extremely severe. They needed to stabilize his neck with a procedure involving the positioning of a so-called ?halo? ? but the procedure was not as successful as they hoped.?
At 5 a.m. the next day, Brendon McCallum underwent a five-hour surgical procedure to realign the fractured vertebrae.
And though the surgery was technically a success, his mother says, ?His spinal cord was destroyed. He is permanently paralyzed from the collarbone to his toes. This is classified as a Level C4, which means he will never walk again. Nor will he have the use of his arms or hands for the rest of his life ? therefore he is quadriplegic.?
Brendon McCallum, after graduating from high school in 1998, had built a significant career operating Unique Entertainment, an integrative company that hosts theme events from Seattle to Vancouver. He served as DJ for special events like weddings and bar mitzvahs.
By temperament and intelligence, he was ideally suited for such a venture. Besides various athletic degrees earned at EWHS, he also won an award for perfect attendance and as ?most outgoing student.?
A former classmate says, ?Brendon brightened a room just by entering it.?
His mother Marni Muir says now, ?The amazing thing about him is his tremendous attitude. And Brendon has so many friends. He was a friend to all.?
He also has a brother (David Michael Carnahan, 23) and two stepsisters (Christi Jolly, married with two children, and Cari Mullaney, married last Labor Day weekend).
Marni Muir herself is well known in Edmonds as an accomplished interior designer. She is also an art representative and dealer, representing 30 artists from around the world.
In October she plans to open a gallery in Seattle?s Pioneer Square: the Marni Muir Gallery. She is a member of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at www.marnimuir.com.
A benevolent account has been opened in Brendon?s name at Washington Mutual ? known simply as ?The Brendon McCallum Fund.?
Anyone interested in emailing him directly ? ?whether you know him or not,? his mother says ? can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brendon will remain in Harborview Medical Center for up to four months.
Afterward he will transfer to a rehabilitation facility. He and his family know the challenges there will be difficult and ongoing.
?We so much appreciate your prayers and support,? Marni Muir says.
?This is the time when Brendon needs support and encouragement more than anything in the world.?
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