Senior making progress after jet ski accident

Senior Ellie Shimp after being involved in a Jet Ski accident during the summer of 2018. Shimp is now attending school with the use of crutches.

Summer of 2018, senior Ellie Shimp was involved in a jet ski accident that would change the way she sees the world. 

“My jet ski was stationary in the lake. These guys were doing tricks on their jet skis, and they lost control and ran into me,” Shimp said.

She suffered a tibial plateau fracture. Her leg was fractured in five places. She underwent surgery but was later transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital-Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., because of significant vascular trauma, meaning her artery wasn’t pumping blood to her leg. The surgery was successful in saving the leg, and she was transferred to the ICU around 4:15 a.m. that Sunday.

“I learned to never take anything for granted because like I can’t just get up and walk, and that’s what I want to do the most,” Shimp said.

When Shimp was in the hospital, everyone flooded her with support and meaningful words. 

“Everyone bought shirts, and my supporters made bracelets, and, yeah, everyone has just been super nice and encouraging and stuff. My biggest supporters are my parents because they have been through it all, and they want me to get better. Also, all my friends have been huge in my recovery,” Shimp said.

Shimp remained in the hospital for a month. After getting out of the hospital, she faced battles with the outside world. 

“One of the hardest times is when I had my ACL brace because I had my skin graft, and it was raw skin on my thigh, and the brace would rub on my skin. It would be very painful because I would tear off the bandage, and it would tear off some of my skin. Also, when we had home games I would have to sit at home and see the game on everyone’s Snap story,” Shimp said.

While going through her struggles, Shimp had her best friend Wynne Bond to help her through the setbacks and unfortunate events.

“I wanted to make sure she knew I was supporting her every step of the way,” Bond said. “During her month of hospitalization, I took every chance I could to go visit her, whether it was just for few hours or a few days, and as she began to get better and more mobile, I wanted to make sure that her attendance to events would remain the same and that she would feel as though not much had changed.”

Shimp was involved in the swimming and diving team. When coach Scott Pinter heard news of the accident, his main focus for Shimp had nothing to do with getting better for swimming, but more for her well being.

“I was scared for her,” Pinter said. “I know that leg injuries are nothing to mess around with. As more details came in about what exactly happened, the fear intensified because it went from, ‘I hope she can recover well’ to, ‘I hope the doctors can save her leg.’ When an accident as big as this occurs, sports get put aside. The first and foremost concern turns to their well being. I do hope she can get back to swimming in some capacity someday, but for now, a healthy recovery is the main concern for her.”

Pinter had big goals for Shimp this season and was looking forward to her having a breakout season before college.

“Ellie was in a prime position to become a real senior leader on the team. She had progressed in a way that showed how much she cared about the sport and doing it well. Her work ethic continued to grow, and the results showed how much hard work she was really putting in. She was in line to be our top breaststroker this year and had high aspirations for this year and beyond. I was very excited to try and help her reach those goals.” Pinter said.

Shimp started Physical therapy with Athletico. Currently, she only stretches because her foot hasn’t moved for two months. Besides the therapy, Shimp can put a lot of weight on her foot, perform arm stretches and walk on her crutches. Although Shimp can’t participate in physical activities, she can do everyday tasks such as cooking and driving. 

Shimp said she has come a long way with her recovery.

“I saw that I was getting better because I was able to walk up my flight of stairs to my room, which is like 16 stairs. I remember standing in my room for the first time and just crying because I hadn’t been in there for like six-seven weeks, and that was the place I was at last before the Clear Lake incident,” Shimp said.

Ever since Shimp was cleared from the hospital, her emotions have not been consistent, but she said she knows that she has much to be grateful for.

“In the hospital, I didn’t feel anything really because I was on some very strong drugs, but I remember just listening to songs and just crying all the time, but now that I’m home and getting better, I’m becoming more grateful for things that I can do and people in my life. I’m happy that I’m still alive because I could’ve easily drowned,” Shimp said

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