A newlywed Santa Clarita Valley couple whose idyllic tropical honeymoon turned tragic when the groom suffered a severe spinal injury two weeks ago remains stuck in a Tahiti hospital.
John Knight and Alana Cooper were married April 7 at The Oaks (formerly TPC) in Valencia, and were set to return to the SCV April 20, when John Knight fractured his C-7 vertebrae after jumping into the water in Bora Bora, according to Dori Lancaster, a lifelong friend of the bride and her matron of honor at the wedding.
Knight was taken via boat gurney and emergency medical airplane from Bora Bora to the island of Tahiti, site of the nearest medical center, for emergency surgery.
After surgery, Knight remained in the center’s intensive care until May 2, when he was moved to the neurosurgery unit, Lancaster said in an email.
“John has been getting physical therapy which had started in ICU and he has been getting more exercises for his hands, legs and arms as of last week,” Lancaster wrote in her seventh and latest GoFundMe page update, on May 8. “Little by little, he’s been gaining more strength.”
“Although John has insurance, they are uncertain if any of his expenses will actually be covered, and that is a naturally causing a great deal of stress,” Lancaster wrote on a GoFundMe crowdfunding page she set up for the Knights on April 24.
At this writing, 1,308 people had donated $110,940 toward the fund’s goal of $200,000 in the first 14 days.
“They will need to get back to the States and most likely will need medical assistance on the flight consisting of a nurse and a medical doctor, especially if John still needs oxygen treatments,” Lancaster wrote. “Their flights home will also have to come out of pocket.”
Until John is well enough to travel, Alana Knight is staying in a hotel across the street from the hospital and paying the cost out of pocket.
“They do not have any more paid time off, as they used it up for their honeymoon,” Lancaster wrote.
“As you can imagine, the costs are astronomical and we are asking for any support we can offer to help this wonderful couple with the medical bills and to get John back home to Santa Clarita,” she wrote.
“The most important issue right now is coordinating his medical travel back to the US as soon as possible,” she wrote.
However, the Knights still don’t know when they’ll be able to return home.
The couple met through on an online dating site. They met in person in summer 2017 at a wild animal park in New York, where he proposed to her.