Washington Senior Hospitalized After Diving at Wall Lake

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A regular swimming trip at Wall Lake has turned into tragedy for one Sioux Falls family. The incident has left a Washington High School senior in the hospital for the last four weeks and counting.

“I’m one of those parents when you think nothing like this is going to happen to your child,” says Linda Paulson.

Paulson’s son, Malik, suffered a severe spinal injury after he dove into the water at Wall Lake earlier this month. It’s an incident that’s forever changed their family.

“Mentally draining, physically draining, it’s overwhelming in every aspect,” says Paulson.

It’s too soon to know if the 18-year-old is paralyzed but he tells his mom that he does have some feeling. However he’s not able to move his body from the neck down and is on a breathing tube.

His family says Malik’s a fighter.

“I think he’s going to walk again, and I think he’s going to be my son that I’ve raised for 18 years. I don’t think anything’s going to change. I think this is just a hurdle we have to go through,” says Paulson.

The high school senior is described as amazing, unique and loving who has a passion for football and wrestling.

“He has a contagious smile,” says Paulson.

While not every family can relate to the Paulson’s reality, Linda wants parents to be cautious no matter the activity.

“Malik was at Wall Lake almost every day this summer. He was doing something that he normally does every day, and it changed his whole life as well as ours,” says Paulson.

The Paulson’s have created a GoFundMe page which has raised thousands of dollars.

They say the support from friends, the Washington football team and even strangers is overwhelming.

“The support and the prayers from everybody we’re so grateful. You never know how many people or who you have in your corner until something like this happens,” says Paulson.

Malik will stay a warrior and fight even as these hospital days turn into weeks. He’s expected to move to a hospital in Lincoln for rehab hopefully in the next week or two.

If you’d like to donate to his GoFundMe page click here.

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