Friends, classmates and fellow lifeguards of Doris Quigley, who was left partially paralyzed after hitting her head last week on a sandbar at Atlantic Avenue Beach in East Hampton, are planning video well-wishes and a barbecue to raise funds for medical expenses.
Quigley, 17, an East Hampton High School student and daughter of East Hampton town board member Theresa Quigley, was rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she underwent three hours of surgery following the Aug. 22 accident.
Initially, her lower body was paralyzed, but in the past few days she has shown signs of progress, first wiggling her toes and later moving her lower legs, officials said.
"This struck everybody hard," said Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, who visited Quigley last week. "It could have happened to anyone."
After finishing her lifeguard shift, Quigley dove into a sand bar that was not visible from the surface.
Other lifeguards went to her aid, helped by what was described as three bits of luck.
First, an incoming wave flipped her face up. Then, a surfer on the beach had an unusually long boogie board, allowing rescuers to stabilize her head and neck as she was taken from the water.
Finally, an emergency room physician from Southampton Hospital was on the beach and helped the Amagansett volunteer ambulance crew as they put her in the ambulance and transported her to their fire house, where a helicopter took Quigley to Stony Brook.
Plans are being made for a beach barbecue fundraiser for Quigley on Sept. 8 at Atlantic Avenue Beach. Town lifeguards, volunteer ocean rescue squad, and the East Hampton High School senior class support the event. Local merchants have volunteered food and drink.
Wilkinson said Quigley's spirits are high, and she realizes her recovery will be long. "She's so genuine, the real thing. She is a 17-year-old with the poise of a 28-year-old. She is handling it marvelously," Wilkinson said.
"She is supported by a lifeguard unit that are as much concerned about her as her family . . . she is convinced they will do whatever is required to make sure the outcome is successful."
LTV, a local television production facility, plans to set up a booth on the beach where well-wishers can record a video message that will be sent to Quigley, who faces months of rehabilitation. They will also broadcast the event at a later date on the town cable network.
Admission to the barbecue is $20, and donations can be made to the East Hampton Lifeguard Association.