Marines investigating incident that left recruit paralyzed

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comDecember 19, 2011 

Officials at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island are investigating a training exercise last month that left a 19-year-old Marine recruit paralyzed.

Pfc. Nick Battles, a Florida native, was in the final weeks of recruit training at the base when he was injured Nov. 9, said Lt. Melanie Salinas, depot spokeswoman.

Salinas declined to discuss specifics of the incident, citing a command investigation currently under way.

A blog and Facebook page set up by Battles' family to chronicle his recovery said the teenager collided with a fellow recruit on his last field day of Marine basic training.

The collision severely injured Battles' spine, resulting in paralysis below the chest, according to Battles' family.

Battles was transported to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston immediately following the incident last month. He was released last week to the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Fla., to continue his rehabilitation, Salinas said.

While hospitalized in Charleston, Battles was meritoriously promoted to private first class, according to his family.

On the blog, Battles' father Justin, a former Marine, wrote that his son's recovery has been hard-fought.

"My son is a true warrior in every aspect and quit is not in his vocabulary," Justin Battles wrote this week. "Overall, it's getting better every day."

A fundraiser was scheduled for Saturday in Battles' hometown of Tampa, where Justin Battles works as a firefighter and paramedic with Tampa Fire Rescue, organizer said.

The proceeds will be used to cover the expenses the family incurred tending to Battles in Charleston.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/OnBaseBeaufort.

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