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Analy High School senior Carson Pforsich no doubt faces challenges in the aftermath of a Sonoma Coast beach accident Sunday that injured his spine and left him with significant paralysis.

But loved ones surrounding the Sebastopol student-athlete are finding plenty to be grateful for.

On Monday afternoon, the 17-year-old recovered sensation in his hands and forearms, said his father, Andy Pforsich, a longtime Sonoma County firefighter.

And though his son’s spinal cord is swollen and bruised, it was neither severed nor torn, either of which easily could have happened when he dove into a wave and unexpectedly hit bottom during a swim off Pinnacle Gulch in Bodega Bay.

“He’s a strong kid,” Andy Pforsich said. “(It’s) the height of football season, so he’s in the best physical shape a kid could be in. I’m so optimistic.”

Carson Pforsich, a wide receiver for the Analy Tigers who is, his coach said, “the heart of his team,” was on his way back to Sebastopol after lunch Sunday with a friend at The Boathouse in Bodega Bay when they decided to stop by the beach, meet a couple of friends and take a dip.

Carson Pforsich dove into an approaching wave not far from shore. He hit bottom, injured his upper back and found himself face down in the water, unable to move.

His friends “were all right there,” and quickly realized their friend wasn’t moving, Andy Pforsich said.

An off-duty Rancho Adobe firefighter reportedly was on the beach and able to offer assistance as Carson Pforsich was carried to shore. The Sonoma County sheriff’s helicopter, Henry 1, made an emergency landing on the beach below the Bodega Harbour subdivision and flew him to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Andy Pforsich, who has spent 4½ decades in local fire service and administration with Santa Rosa, Gold Ridge and Bennett Valley fire departments, said he arrived at the hospital just as the aircraft carrying his son landed. He found him conscious and able to tell the story of what had happened.

After surgery to stabilize a broken vertebra and remove pressure from the spine, Carson was in good spirits Monday and pain-free, Andy Pforsich said.

His son has been communicating using a sheet with letters on it because of a precautionary breathing tube. But that was expected to be taken out Tuesday, so he expected his son would “be chatting it up.”

Tigers football coach James Foster said his players, who are not quite halfway through their season, were trying to prevent their friend’s accident from distracting them at practice.

But he said Pforsich, who caught a touchdown pass Friday in a win against Petaluma High and who also plays baseball for Analy, is team leader, with “just tremendous charisma.”

“All the kids rally around him, so obviously this is tough,” Foster said. “But he’s the kind of person who would want us to push on and keep working hard.”

Andy Pforsich said he and Carson’s mother, Andrea, have stayed by their son’s side and found amazing support from “really tight family and extended family,” plus friends and community who are pulling for them.

“There’s a lot to be thankful for,” he said, “and to look forward to.”

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