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CrossFit trainer suffers severed spine: Injury leaves him paralyzed

A CrossFit coach severed his spine during a competition and will likely never walk again.

Kevin Ogar suffered a severed spine during a CrossFit competition and will never walk again.
Kevin Ogar

Kevin Ogar, once a top-level CrossFit athlete, was performing a routine "snatch" at a competition in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Jan. 12, 2014, when he abruptly let go of the weight bar.

'Like Someone Shot Him'

The massive weights fell onto the floor, bounced against another set of weights, and hit Ogar in the back, severing his spine (see video). Ogar, 28, immediately fell to the floor and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

"When impact was made, he jumped almost like someone shot him," Matt Hathcock, Ogar's friend, boss, and training partner told ABC News.

Hathcock, who owns the CrossFit gym in Denver where Ogar worked as a coach, insisted Ogar's injury was not CrossFit's fault. "Kevin has been doing CrossFit for a very long time at a very high level," said Hathcock. "Are injuries going to occur? Sure, but Kevin's not going to blame the sport. This was not the fault of CrossFit."

Sadly, there was no doctor or medical personnel on site at the competition. Ogar was rushed to the hospital, where he was told he may never be able to walk again. Ogar had no medical insurance, so the CrossFit community has organized a fundraising campaign to raise money for his medical bills. They raised an impressive $500,000 in short order.

The once-athletic 6-foot-1, 210-pound Kevin has undergone two surgeries, and had screws and rods implanted in his back. He is now on a very long road to recovery through extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation.

At the time he was injured, Ogar had been training to compete at the 2014 CrossFit Games, which reigning champ Rich Froning has won for the past three years.

CrossFit Injuries Rise, Rhabdo Threat Also Looms

While Ogar's injury was caused by a freak accident, this isn't the first time CrossFit has come under scrutiny for its high injury rate. In November 2013, chiropractors and physical therapists told me the skyrocketing rates of CrossFit injuries have been a cash cow for them.

Earlier this year, CrossFit came under fire for its link to the potentially deadly kidney condition rhabdomyolysis. Fitness experts warn that rhabdomyolysis, which is usually caused by excessive exercise, can lead to kidney failure.

"Rhabdomyolysis is an uncool, serious and potentially fatal condition resulting from the catastrophic breakdown of muscle cells," physical-therapy professor Eric Robertson wrote on the HuffingtonPost. "Under extreme conditions your muscles cells explode. They die."

In 2008, a Virginia jury awarded $300,000 to former U.S. Navy technician Makimba Mimms for injuries he sustained during a CrossFit workout in 2005. Mimms was allegedly hospitalized for a week, urinated blood, suffered rhabdomyolysi and swollen legs after being poorly supervised during his workout by a gym employee who was not certified.

Mimms, now 35, says he's permanently disabled as a result. CrossFit responded to the lawsuit by sarcastically renaming the WOD (Workout of the Day) that injured Mimms the "Makimba" and recategorizing it as a children's workout.

Meanwhile, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman has boasted that WODs "are designed to exceed the capacities of the world’s fittest athletes." He has admitted the brutal workouts can cause serious injury or even death.

"If you find the notion of falling off the rings and breaking your neck so foreign to you, then we don't want you in our ranks," Glassman quipped. "[CrossFit] can kill you. I've always been completely honest about that."

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