Kevin Everett: 'He Is a Tiger'

"I was just crying," said Moore. "I didn't know what to think, what to believe, what's going on. All I was thinking about was to get to him."

Everett said his first thoughts were of his loved ones.

"The first thing that entered my mind is my family. I mean, my mom, my sisters and my fiancée," Everett said. "And I was like, 'I can't go now because they need me.'"

"Death entered my mind, but I wasn't going to settle for it," Everett said. "I just wasn't going to accept that."

"I felt like my wind was slowly fading away, and I got kind of scared, but, you know, I settled myself down and focused on my breathing," Everett said.

The medical team carefully stabilized Everett's head and neck, rolled him onto his back and secured him on a stretcher.

"It was done like clock work," said Cappuccino. "I don't think it could be done any better than it was."

"Then you could see Kevin's eyes," recalled head coach Jauron. "He looked worried. He never looked scared to me. He looked strong."

"I tried to give my teammates a thumbs up when they put me on the stretcher," Everett said. "I tried my hardest, you know, put all my heart into it. Just to let them know I was all right. But it wasn't all right."

'We Have Given Him a Chance'

Fifteen minutes after the collision, Everett was loaded into an ambulance and taken off the field to thunderous applause.

"The ambulance started to just vibrate because of all this energy pouring from the stands," said paramedic supervisor Christopher Zemrac, of Rural/Metro Medical Services.

Inside the ambulance, Cappuccino knew the situation was grave, and decided to take the first of several calculated risks.

"I made the decision in the ambulance to throw the kitchen sink at him, to use some not completely tested [therapies], some therapies that have scientific data but are controversial," he said.

Cappuccino injected steroids and ran a cold saline solution through Everett's bloodstream, trying to lower his body temperature to protect his spinal cord from further damage.

"It was the concept of trying to use the body as an ice bag around the spinal cord," Cappuccino said.

The effect of the decision to cool Everett is still being hotly debated today.

One thing is clear: When Everett arrived at the hospital his life was in danger and his prognosis was grim.

"We've got some tough decisions to make here," Cappuccino told his patient. "This is bad." On the phone with Everett's mother, Cappuccino described the injury as "catastrophic."

Everett's neck was dislocated between the third and fourth vertebrae, and the bones were pinching his spinal cord. "The ligaments are destroyed, the tendons are destroyed, so the only thing holding his head on his shoulders really is the skin on his neck and the big muscles," said Cappuccino.

Cappuccino teamed up with neurosurgeon Dr. Kevin Gibbons to perform an emergency, four-hour surgery to realign Everett's spine.

"After the surgery we feel somewhat better," said Gibbons. "We have taken the pressure off. We have given him a chance to get better."

"It was scary," Dugas recalled.

"[He was] just laying there with tubes everywhere in his body," said Moore. "He didn't even know we were there. When we first saw him, all we could do is just cry."

The First Movement

But as early as the next morning, Everett showed the first sign of hope.

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