ALLEGAN, Mich. (WZZM) - He survived the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, but a serious injury back home has left a local soldier paralyzed. Army Sergeant Chris Schenk of Allegan broke his neck after diving from a boat on Torch Lake near Traverse City earlier this month.

"It's really the unimaginable happening, but he has bore it with good grace," says Mary Schenk.

Schenk's mother tearfully explained what happened on a boat this Fourth of July. "His father rescued him... brought him up and held him and he opened his eyes and looked and said 'Thank you.'"

Schenk was alive, but paralyzed from the neck down.

"A respirator will have to force breaths into him for the rest of his life," says Schenk.

However, Sgt. Schenk's mother is also thinking about a less fortunate family who lost their loved one this month in a similar situation.

"My sympathy goes out to that family for their loss, and my first thoughts and what I expressed to all our family is that we are blessed Chris survived," says Schenk.

Sgt. Schenk also has something to be thankful about; his girlfriend is expecting their first child in November.

"We are all awaiting that with great joy, and I know that gives Chris reason to live," says Schenk.

Sgt. Schenk is expected to be airlifted to Chicago's Heinz V.A. Hospital within the next week, then he'll return home after about 10 weeks of therapy.

If you would like to donate for Sgt. Schenk's medical costs, you can go to any PNC Bank and donate to the Chris Schenk Assistance Fund.