UPDATE: Chris was released from the hospital Monday, August 5 after seven weeks, 10 surgeries and eight blood transfusions. He is in a wheelchair until his hand recovers (broken and had to have surgery) or he receives his prosthetic leg which is expected in approx. two months after the site of the amputation heals enough. Please see updates tab for more info. THANK YOU ALL SO SO MUCH.
Friends, family and wider community, we are reaching out today with a call for help to keep Capt. Chris Shultz afloat during his recovery. The first, best, and most direct help you can give, is through this GoFundme effort.
Literally every dollar counts. Please share this GoFundMe far and wide: 5 dollars from a stranger matters. 10 bucks from one of your coworkers makes a difference.
Chris Shultz is a 31-year-old avid fisherman, hunter, waterman, and outdoorsman from Atlantic Beach, FL. A little over a year ago, Chris, a local graduate of NEASE High School, UF (BA) and UNF (MBA), created his dream job by starting a fishing charter business FishJAX.org. You may have read his newspaper columns which are in the Beaches Leader every Thursday.
On June 19, 2019 Chris’ life changed dramatically. He was within a couple miles of home, riding his beloved Harley to the boat ramp, to catch the sunset and check out bait for 5 upcoming charters.
Jeff Valin of First Coast News of Jacksonville reported from the scene following the accident “that it seemed unlikely the motorcyclist would have survived this crash; it was just a horrific scene . . . spectacular and really widespread.”
Chris was the motorcyclist in that accident on A1A in Mayport, FL. He was hit head on when an impaired driver (without auto insurance and already cited 3 times this year) missed the curve and veered into his lane. After being thrown over the car, Chris had the presence of mind to recognize that his leg was nearly severed. Using his belt, he created a tourniquet to try to stop the bleeding. A first responder at the scene shared that he was certain this action saved his life.
Over the first 6 weeks, Chris had 10 surgeries and 8 blood transfusions resulting in a below-the-knee amputation of his left leg, setting his broken left femur and fixing a broken left hand. Dr. Dougherty and his team at UF Health have worked hard to save Chris’ knee for increased mobility when he begins to use a prosthetic leg.
Chris is still in the hospital and as he begins his recovery, we need your help filling in the gap that his loss of up to one year’s income will mean for him financially. His long-term objective remains the same: build his business and, now, his independence.
It’s a significant ask we know; but if not his community, and his friends and family, who else? All of us are committed to supporting his recovery.
Despite being extremely positive and in great spirits, we all know that Chris has a long road ahead. Many we have spoken to with life experience as an amputee suggest that getting back to an independent life will take up to one year. More surgeries and intensive rehab are the next phase. After seven weeks in the hospital Chris has spent very little time upright and will use a wheelchair and a walker that has been rigged for use until his left hand heals enough to bear weight. He will then use crutches until his left leg heals enough for a prosthetic leg to be fitted. This could take anywhere between 2 to 5 months.
Chris will spend his first few weeks out of the hospital at the home of his parents, Jane and Dave Shultz, in Jacksonville FL while he goes through rehabilitation as an outpatient at Brooks Rehabilitation. He has already started rehab while at UF Health Shands Hospital, moving his left knee, sitting upright, practicing with his wheelchair and crutches. He expects to get back into his own home in Mayport, FL as soon as possible, hopeful that will be within a month or so of getting out of the hospital.
Chris posted this, his first update, on his social media accounts on July 5: “Captains Update - Just over 2 weeks ago I was riding my Harley when an impaired driver swerved into me from oncoming traffic. Luckily, I’m still here to tell the story, unfortunately my left leg was so damaged it required amputation. Despite this set back I remain driven to pursue what I love and get back on the water. Today marked an important first step, literally one step, but just being able to get back upright and out of the hospital bed I’ve been laying in for a brief minute felt as incredible as grabbing the face of this tarpon a few weeks ago. I can’t thank all of you enough for the outpouring of love, prayers, support, visits, food everything. It’s all incredibly appreciated and has been a tremendous help keeping me focused on the positive during a difficult time.”
As you can see, our fishing guide Captain Chris feels lucky to be alive and enthusiastic – ready to begin to rebuild a future filled with fishing, hunting, being outside and in the water, grilling, and enjoying it with great friends, his family and dog, Gauge. He is inspiring all of us who visit regularly and know and love him with his positive attitude and outlook on life.
And finally, in whatever version of prayer you practice, please hold Chris and his family in your hearts. Keep the good intentions and healing love flowing so that we can have him back out on the water soon.
We are all so lucky to be a part of Chris’s family and community, be it local or extended. This is our chance to do something together, to rally and support Chris, so that he can heal and create the next phase of his life.