Mark Celesky recovering from a hunting injury at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- We are just hours away from the opening of firearm deer season and experts are reminding hunters to be careful.
Each year, they say, hunting accidents lead to spinal cord injuries -- even death.
At Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mark Celeskey is making progress in his recovery. He was paralyzed three weeks ago when he fell out of his tree stand in Northern Michigan.
"I wouldn't wish this upon anybody," says Celesky, who was not wearing a safety harness at the time of his accident.
"Any other time, if I was in a stand bow hunting, I would of had a harness on, but I was in a rifle stand with rails all around," he says.
Celesky says, at the time he thought he was safe. Instead, he fell 16 feet. He laid on the ground for five hours before his cousin found him.
"My cell phone was in my pocket, but it was on vibrate, so I could hear him and my wife calling me, but I couldn't reach it" says Celesky.
At Mary Free Bed, Dr. Stephen Bloom says this is their busy season. The doctor says hunters' proper use of safety harnesses could cut down on the large number of patients they see during the season.
"Injuries, particularly more severe ones like brain or spinal cord injury," says Dr. Bloom. "It should be attached properly for it to work."
"I've come a long way in three weeks, but still it's a hard road ahead," says Celesky, "but I'll be dealing with this for the rest of my life."
"Hunting's a wonderful sport," says Dr. Bloom. "I'm a hunter. You can do it safely, and do it smartly. You want to do it (that way) so you come home with a trophy and not an injury that's going to change your life."