After suffering a dangerous fall from a downtown parking garage, a UF student remains bedridden in the UF Health Shands Hospital as his family, friends and community unite on his difficult path to recovery.
Mitchell Capps, a Theta Chi fraternity member and 22-year-old UF forest resources and conservation junior, fell from a parking garage located on the 100th block of SW Second St. on Jan. 17.
After nearly a week in the hospital, Capps’ condition appears to be improving. His father, Bryan Capps Sr., said doctors were able to remove his breathing tube Thursday.
“He looks much more himself, and he started moving his eyes and responding to voices today,” Capps Sr. said Thursday evening. “So we’re just overjoyed.”
Following the incident, Capps suffered a serious brain injury, two broken femurs, a broken pelvis, a broken ankle, a broken elbow, broken fingers and broken bones in his face, according to Capps Sr.’s Facebook post.
Capps’ mother, Kim Vaglivielo Capps, shared an update on Facebook Wednesday and wrote her son is showing more brain activity, and his doctor appeared to be encouraged by his eye movements.
“Praise God! Your prayers are working! Please continue praying and sharing Mitchell’s story with anyone who prays,” Vaglivielo Capps wrote. “We feel the love and support and it’s helping us to get through each day. We love you all.”
A GoFundMe page created Tuesday by Capps’ older brother, Bryan Capps Jr., has already raised $40,525 of the $50,000 goal listed as of Thursday. The money raised will help defray the costs of recovery and Capps’ eventual return to school, according to the fundraiser’s page.
Capps Jr. shared the most recent update on the fundraiser page Wednesday: “Mitch’s surgeries so far have been going as well as possible, and he’s starting to show signs of increased activity,” he wrote. “He’s a fighter on his own, but I know that his progress so far wouldn’t be possible without all of you behind him.”
The UF Forestry Club will hold a benefit concert for Capps at First Magnitude Brewing Company Saturday from 6-10 p.m. and feature one of Capps’ favorite bands, Kamasutra. Proceeds will go toward helping the Capps family, said Hope Miller, the president of the UF Forestry Club.
Miller, a friend and classmate of Capps, said Capps’ family, friends and Theta Chi fraternity brothers will attend the concert.
She describes Capps as always being “such a bright spot in everyone’s day.”
“He always has a smile or a joke,” Miller said. “I just felt moved to help the family out in any way I could.”
Capps’ fall was reported to police at 10 p.m. Jan. 17, said Jorge Campos, a spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department. While police could not confirm which floor he fell from, Capps Sr. wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that his son fell from the fourth floor of the garage.
Although Capps didn’t have identification on him following the incident, he was identified to authorities by one of his best friends who happened to drive by and recognized him.
Authorities are still investigating the circumstances of Capps’ fall.
Capps Sr. said he feels grateful for the support his family has received from the community following his son’s incident.
“There’s people all over the country who’ve just come out of the woodwork, and I could not be more grateful,” Capps Sr. said. “We don’t deserve it. I feel like the luckiest man in the world.”
Contact Samia Lagmis at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SLagmis.