East Carolina baseball player shows promise after serious boating injury, NC mom says

Screengrab from Mitzi Lee Byrd's Facebook page

A college baseball player is showing promise after a severe boating injury in North Carolina, his mom said.

Parker Byrd, a freshman at East Carolina University in Greenville, was tubing on a creek when officials said part of a boat hit him in the legs on July 23. Though he required surgery, he narrowly missed becoming more seriously hurt.

“The propeller came 1 millimeter from cutting that nerve in half and if that would have happened, he would have lost the whole leg, according to the surgeon,” his mom, who The Laurinburg Exchange and 247Sports have identified as Mitzi Lee Byrd, wrote July 28 on Facebook.

Nearly a week after the close call, she said her son continues to be on the mend. She shared an update from his surgeon in an online post.

“He says that P will be able to walk, run, and live a normal life,” the mom wrote. “I know many have asked and wondered about his baseball future. He said he couldn’t guarantee it but that it was definitely a possibility that he would get back on the ball field with intensive therapy and hard work.”

As Parker Byrd continues to recover, his friends and teammates flocked outside his hospital window to show support. Photos show Byrd becoming emotional as friends held signs and balloons on the top of a nearby parking deck.

“We cracked the window and they yelled out well wishes,” his mom wrote. “I can’t tell you what this meant to him. To see the love and support from his best friends and to see they were there for him ... I have no words! He perked up so much after that.”

In response to a request for information about the case, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in an emailed statement told McClatchy News two tubers were on Bath Creek in Eastern North Carolina when a “rope got caught” in the propeller, pulling one of them toward a boat. The propeller cut both of his legs.

“He was immediately grabbed by his friends on the vessel and taken out of the water,” the statement said. “They applied a tourniquet.”

They flagged down a boat that had a nurse on board, who helped them figure out how to use another tourniquet. The injured tuber was later flown to a hospital in Greenville, according to officials.

Byrd was an infielder when he attended Scotland High School in Laurinburg. He committed to the ECU Pirates, a team that boasted a 46-21 record and was ranked among the top Division 1 programs last season, McClatchy News reported.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Parker Byrd and his family,” Jon Gilbert, athletic director for ECU, said in a written statement. “Our focus is on him and the recovery process. Coach (Cliff) Godwin and our baseball staff have been supporting the family during their time of need.”

Mitzi Lee Byrd didn’t immediately share additional information with McClatchy News on July 25.

Greenville is approximately 85 miles east of Raleigh.

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