Holiday Nightmare: A high school teacher was not allowed to leave the Guatemalan hospital after he broke his neck

A California high school teacher experiences a holiday nightmare in Central America, where he was seriously injured while surfing.

Alex Austin, 28, was on vacation in Guatemala on the beach with his friend Dillon Nicholson, when he made a tragic mistake.

"He just misinterpreted the wave and plunged his head first into a water a foot and a half deep and he broke his neck," Nicholson said.

Alex has had cervical vertebrae surgery and has been hospitalized in Guatemala for a week. He is making progress and is not paralyzed. He recorded a video of his progress and posted it on Facebook.

"I'm fine enough that I would never have thought, I find a good mobility, I'm really excited to be able to return to America soon with hope," Austin said.

The problem is to go home. Nicholson says that the hospital needs a full payment before he can be released to return home for further treatment.

"They took his passport, we talked to the American Embassy, ​​they said it was a normal practice, so we have to pay the bill for it to be released." Nicholson said.

A GoFundMe account generated approximately $ 23,000. The director of the Dinuba High School, Mike Roberts, said that the money came from teachers and students.

"A lot of our teachers have made donations, I know some of our students have also donated," Roberts said.

Alex teaches chemistry and science to freshmen and juniors, and Roberts says students are worried.

"They were delighted to learn that he was getting up and walking and that a lot of prayers were being sent to him," Roberts said.

Alex should be released from the hospital this week if the bill is paid. He will then have to stay in Guatemala for about ten days for follow-up care. Nicholson says it's a test, but says it's inspiring to see Alex get out of it.

"You know, from where we were a week ago just lying on the beach, he could not feel anything or move anything under his neck," said Nicholson. "So, the fact now that he is walking and that he is feeding and can move his arms and legs – this is an absolute miracle in my opinion."

Director Roberts says that the school hopes that Alex will be back to work in about six weeks.

If you want to help Alex, you can donate to his GoFundMe account by clicking right here.

(Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV, All Rights Reserved.)