Video by Jordan Hamm
Written Story by Maddyn Johnstone-Thomas
Hospital Phots/Videos Courtesy: Muir Family
Krysten Muir, her boyfriend and three dogs were coming home from a trip up to Payson, Arizona to see the snow.
It would be a trip that would change their lives forever.
There was a mix of rain and snow on the roads and her boyfriend lost control of the car when making a turn, causing the truck to roll over.
Krysten instantly knew something was wrong.
“I was only out for a second. I opened my eyes and I couldn’t feel my legs so I knew right then and there that I was going to be paralyzed and this is going to be a long road,” Muir recalled. “We got help right away. They cut my seatbelt and helped me out of the car. I remember looking at my feet and they were dragging but I couldn’t feel them being dragged.
“I was just more happy that we were alive. When it was happening, I didn’t know what to do. I closed my eyes and was hoping it wasn’t real.”
Just a few years ago, Muir was on the sidelines of the football field at Marcos de Niza suited up as their kicker. She was an all-around athlete, also playing volleyball and soccer for the Padres. Making local and national headlines, Muir prided herself on being an inspiration to girls across the country after setting a record of points scored by a girl in an Arizona varsity football season.
Just as shown on the gridiron, Muir has never been one to shy away from a challenge and will continue to fight this new battle head on, and to not back down.
“I can still do everything I want in life,” Muir said. “I’m not going to stop doing what I want to do in life. I’m not going to let it stop me, just like how I didn’t let any of the guys stop me out there so it’ll be the same here. I’m just going to keep pushing myself and keep working until I get better.”
Following the accident, her boyfriend thought he had a broken arm, but it turned out to only be a severe wound. The two were taken to a hospital in Payson initially, and Muir was later transferred to a hospital in Mesa.
“It’s been a rough few days, but we’re all doing okay,” her dad Jeremy Muir said. “I don’t think we’ve dealt with the emotion of it yet just because we’ve had so much to do and so much going on. We’ve been okay. (Kathy Muir, Krysten’s mom) is being really strong and doing an amazing job and I’m trying to keep it together the best I can.”
Due to COVID-19, her family hasn’t been able to be with her in the hospital. However, she FaceTimes them multiple times throughout the day to give them updates.
“I haven’t been able to get much sleep because I’m away from family and in a little pain,” Muir said. “Over the past few days, I just feel tremendously grateful to still be here because it totally could’ve gone the other way and been really bad. I’ve been looking back on things and being really grateful for everything I have.”
Like with many spinal cord injuries, much of Krysten’s prognosis is still unclear. She is partially paralyzed, but the next six months will be crucial for her. The treatment she receives and the physical therapy she’ll be able to do will dictate her recovery. Currently, her right leg is slightly more numb than her left, however she can feel pressure on them if someone were to squeeze her toe.
Recently, she has also made progress in which she can contract her left thigh and control the muscle, along with being able to lift her leg one inch off of the bed.
“I spoke to her after second surgery,” Krysten’s former special teams coach and Arizona Cardinal Benjamin Patrick said. “It was probably a few hours after she finished surgery and she said, ‘I’m ready to start physical therapy.’ That tells you all that you need to know.”
Being able to go to physical therapy has helped Muir tremendously, encouraging her to stay positive.
“The first day of therapy I got into the wheelchair and they were saying that’s not usually a first day thing, but I just want to start moving or at least give my legs the chance to,” Muir said. “I really look forward to (physical therapy). They’re really awesome, motivational and patient. It’s given me a positive outlook on everything, because they’re really proud of my progress and that helps me a lot.”
UPDATE from @KrystenMuir on IG! #12MuirStrong #12Sports @Coach_Figueroa @mdnpadres @FootballMdn @MdNpadresTDclub @mdnathletics @AZHSFB @gridironarizona @JordyHamm @JayHarrisESPN @KevinMcCabeHHF @Dunndada22 @MovePerformance pic.twitter.com/ybC5vtZ5aa
— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) January 29, 2021
Muir’s dad isn’t surprised about his daughter’s drive to want to jump right into the road of recovery.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” her dad said. “She’s always been tough…it’s really impressive that she can maintain that mentally and doesn’t fall apart, it’s just a new challenge for her. Obviously there will be ups and downs in those things that come along with it. It’s inspiring to see. She’s faced adversity before, but to see her rise to the challenge in this and not bat an eye has really been pretty amazing to see.”
The Muir family is in need of the community’s support. Krysten will have extensive physical therapy and treatment over the coming months and the family will need to renovate their home to make it wheelchair accessible. That same Marcos de Niza community that supported Krysten on the field has responded. They have put together multiple GoFundMe campaigns for Muir and her boyfriend along with sending numerous messages and positive thoughts. The outpouring support that she has received has allowed Muir to remain hopeful.
“I just don’t have the words to say how amazing it is because I’m just so grateful that they care so much,” Muir said holding back tears. “I love them so much. I wish I could give something back to them, because they’ve helped me so much and keep me positive. They are a big reason why I’m trying hard to have a speedy recovery. I wouldn’t be as positive or as confident to start walking if they weren’t confident in me.”
Not only have people in the community been helping financially and emotionally, but also physically. After the accident, two of the three dogs were unable to be found. However, after numerous search parties in Payson, the dogs were found and brought home safe and healthy.
As of right now, the timeline of recovery for Muir’s future is unclear. But one thing’s for sure she isn’t going to stop fighting.
She wants to go back to school for environmental science and wildlife biology to help conserve the planet and wildlife to make it a better place in the future.
“She walks the walk,” her dad said. “She is not a big talker and she’s humble. She just puts her nose down and goes to work and I think that speaks volumes to who she is. Seeing it come up as she was a kid and pushing her through soccer and getting her through football and seeing her succeed in those seeing her do it as an adult makes me proud. Makes me very proud of her.”