SPOKANE - Last weekend 19-year-old Hayden resident Cody Piscitelli was endurance riding, part of training he hoped would propel him to the upper echelon of motocross racers in the world. Then he raced toward a final jump.
It was toward the end of a normal Saturday for him at Airway Motocross Park, at Airway Heights. He was tired, but he decided to hit the biggest jump one more time.
He has spent the past week accepting the way he'll live the rest of his life. He's paralyzed from the middle of the chest down, after suffering a catastrophic and complete separation of the spinal cord.
He described the final seconds of the accident this way:
"I guess I didn't give it enough throttle or something," he recalled from his hospital bed at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. "I came up short, just landed and bounced and did a front flip off my bike and landed on my back."
He has been working hard for next year's Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee.
"That was going to be the breakthrough point," he said.
He hit the jump as fast as his Yamaha YZF 450 could go on the dirt track, which is about 65 mph.
Seconds before he landed, he knew he was going to come up a bit short, and that the landing wasn't going to be smooth. In his mind, though, he thought he would ride away from it.
He has always known that motocross is dangerous. He has lost five friends to the sport, but that didn't slow him down. He loves it.
Now, despite the immensity of the situation and reality of his new life circumstances, Cody is extremely positive, and just thankful to be alive and able to use his arms.
"Crazy change," he said of the days following the accident. "Just staying as positive as I can, thinking every second of my life it could be worse."
He's already eyeing wheelchair sports.
The first post to his Facebook account after the accident read: "I was fortunate enough to live 19 long years with my legs. I always lived on the edge. At least I still have my arms."
He thanked those who have supported him.
"I'm making the best out of it," he wrote.
Cody said he has had tremendous support from family, including his parents, Mike and Nancy Piscitelli, and sister Carina McGee, and friends.
His mother said, "We're gathering our strength from Cody. His attitude has been phenomenal."
She said that just after he crashed, and before he even got to the emergency room, he was telling people he would be a great wheelchair racer.
"He's faced it head-on, and hasn't had one word of pity for himself," she said.
Cody's outlook now is to live life to the greatest extent possible, and enjoy every minute.
When it's just Cody and his mother at the hospital, she said, "We just talk about what the future is going to be like, and what he can do."
Nobody will be talking about what he can't do.
Cody's close friend, Ashley Lagrou, 16, of Coeur d'Alene, said, "His parents did a good job raising him. He just wants everyone else to be happy and OK with him."
His mother said members of the motocross community have been visiting him every day at the hospital.
In addition to daily motocross training, Cody was a student at North Idaho College, and assisting his father at the family business, C & M Performance Racing Suspension, a race tech dirt bike suspension and repair shop in Hayden.
Mike and Nancy will have to modify their house, including adding a wheelchair lift, to accommodate Cody when he finishes his rehabilitation at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, in Spokane.
The family also will need a wheelchair and a vehicle for transporting him.
They will have to modify the family's bike shop so Cody can continue to work there.
"To say that this is going to financially devastate them is an understatement," said his sister, Carina McGee, in an email. Cody also has an older brother, Chayne Piscitelli, of Switzerland.
Nancy had to quit her job, for now, to help her son.
"The ramifications on the family are enormous," McGee said.
The medical bills are going to be overwhelming.
Now the family is reaching out to the community for help.
Ways to donate
* The family set up the Cody Piscitelli Benefit Fund at Spokane Teachers Credit Union. People can donate at any branch, or call the bank and donate to the account.
* Those that want to donate online through PayPal can donate to MikePiscitelli975@yahoo.com. Those donations go directly to the STCU account.
* Cash donations may be dropped off at the Camera Corral in downtown Coeur d'Alene.
* To donate items, such as a wheelchair, contact Cody's sister, Carina McGee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.