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Originally published Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Report: WSU football player had surgery to fuse two vertebrae fractures

Cougars freshman Cory Mackay was involved in a one-vehicle accident Thursday night

Seattle Times staff reporter

Whatever the future holds for him, Cory Mackay wants to start embracing it quickly.

"He doesn't want anybody feeling sorry for him," said his father Don. "He just wants to get on with getting himself back in order."

The younger Mackay, a freshman defensive end at Washington State, was seriously injured Thursday evening in a one-vehicle accident seven miles west of Washtucna as he returned home to Redmond from final exams. The Eastlake High product had a three-hour surgery Friday to fuse fractured vertebrae.

In an interview Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center, his father said damage to Cory's spinal cord was "minimal." As for feeling below the waist, Don Mackay said his son has "tingling" in one leg.

"When they push him, he can feel it," Mackay said, "probably kind of an electric-shock-like feeling. So he's encouraged by that."

Linda Mackay said her son could begin rehabilitation as early as Monday. Her husband said they were told it could take up to a year "to get things back to normal if they're going to get back to normal. They just don't know."

In the meantime, the Mackays have been met by a steady stream of visitors and well-wishers that they said numbered 50 to 75 at any time on Friday, including coaches from WSU and Eastlake.

"Quite frankly, he wants to get back on his feet," said Don Mackay. "He doesn't want people pre-assuming that he might not. He's in good spirits. He says, 'I'm going to beat this thing and I want to start working on it right away.' "

Mackay, a 6-foot-4, 257-pound defensive end, apparently fell asleep in a Nissan pickup truck at 5:20 p.m. A state trooper said the truck hit a drainage ditch, went airborne and came to rest on its top on a county road.

Almost immediately, Mackay's parents knew of the accident. A driver with a cellphone called 911 and Mackay, conscious, told the driver to call his parents. By the time Mackay was in a hospital in the Tri-Cities, having been airlifted, he was talking to his parents, who then went to await his arrival at Harborview, where the surgery took place Friday morning.

The Mackays said their son was adamant that contrary to earlier reports, he was wearing a seat belt. Don Mackay said the tow-truck driver who removed the vehicle said the seat-belt assembly had been cut away by an aid crew, and told him, "If he hadn't had his seat belt on, he wouldn't have survived."

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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