Five weeks after suffering serious injuries in a bicycle accident that could have left him a paraplegic, Lukas Verzbicas walked out of a Colorado Springs hospital Tuesday with hopes of resuming his career as an elite triathlete.
Verzbicas broke six ribs, his right clavicle and two thoracic vertebrae, along with a punctured lung, when he crashed into a guard rail while on a ride July 31 in the Garden of the Gods.
“I could have been a paraplegic or even worse,” said Verzbicas, 19. “They told me I could have passed away, so I feel very lucky that I’m still here and that I’m recovering so fast.”
Verzbicas is a highly regarded prospect from the Chicago area who moved to Colorado Springs to train at the Olympic Training Center and attend the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. His spinal cord was damaged in the accident, but not permanently.
“They told me at first that they had no guarantees,” Verzbicas said after being discharged from Penrose-St. Francis hospital. “They said I might not even walk, they couldn’t guarantee that. Anything is possible with a spinal cord injury. But every single day it just got better and better, and (Tuesday) I walked out without any crutch or any device.”