Gwinnett runner paralyzed after obstacle course fall

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A fall during an obstacle course race has forever changed the life of Charles Tumulak, a runner from Gwinnett County who is now paralyzed from the neck down.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A fall during an obstacle course race has forever changed the life of a Gwinnett County runner.

The accident left the man paralyzed from the neck down. Family members say what happened to Charles Tumulak is very similar to what happened to the late actor, Christopher Reeves.

They gave Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh a picture of the cargo net climb, where Tumulak lost his balance and landed on his neck.

Active, outgoing and selfless is how Kai Recchia describes her big brother.

"He was involved in a lot of volunteer work and he really lived to do things for other people," Recchia said.

His other passions include running half-and full marathons, and, recently, obstacle courses.

Kavanaugh used her iPhone to Skype with Recchia from Connecticut as she shared the story about the race that changed her brother's life.

It was Saturday, March 23. Recchia was running a race up north. Her three brothers were running an obstacle course in South Carolina.

"My plan was to finish and then text him the time of how well if did," Recchia said.

Instead, Recchia had several messages about Tumulak's accident.

"You could have retraced his steps a thousand times and done exactly what happened a thousand times and it would never happen again," Recchia said.

The fall fractured his vertebrae, paralyzing him from the shoulders down. Tumulak can't move, breathe or swallow on his own.

"He wants to see you move him just because he wants to see his limbs -- that is probably harder than anything else we've had to do," Recchia said.

Tumulak has been at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, S.C. ever since. His next stop is Atlanta's Shepherd Center, then hopefully his parents' Lilburn home.

Recchia said the family is looking at astronomical medical expenses plus the cost to renovate the garage for Tumulak.

Family members said they are looking at nursing that will cost a minimum of $5,000 a month. They have set up a website for Tumulak to raise donations.

Click here for more information about donations.