CLINTON — Three days after Christmas, MaKenzie Nadeau was a passenger in a car that traveled off a Clinton road and struck a tree.

The 16-year-old spent a week at Maine Medical Center in Portland being treated for extensive injuries. An X-ray determined MaKenzie had suffered a fracture to her spine and there was pressure on her spinal cord. She needed surgery to stabilize it.

She also suffered a fractured rib and bruised pancreas.

Her father, Tom Nadeau, said receiving the call about the crash was a nightmare.

“You try to support your child in a moment where all you can do is encourage and support her,” he said. “She’s a tough nugget, always has been.”

MaKenzie, a junior at Lawrence High School and a shooting guard on the girls’ basketball team, now is undergoing physical therapy. She wears a back brace and is using a walker to get around.


“One of the things that’s helped my wife and I get through this as parents is the outside support from the community,” her father said. “Special thanks to anyone who has reached out.”

MaKenzie said she’s received support from the Lawrence community and other schools including Bangor, Erskine, Gardiner, Messalonskee, Nokomis and Skowhegan. Players have reached out to wish her well over social media and sent her flowers.

“I have like eight vases of flowers right now,” she said with a laugh.

She suffered nerve damage in her legs from the crash, which left the driver and another passenger with minor injuries. As a result, her right leg is weak. But doctors say she is healing well and they are impressed with her progress.

“I’m just extremely thankful to be here and to be able to recover and not be paralyzed,” said MaKenzie, who lives with her family in Clinton. “The surgeon could not believe I had function in my legs.”

“It’s definitely been getting better with the walker, though,” she said. “Never take anything for granted, you never know when things could change, especially with sports. You never know when your last game will be. My goal is to definitely be able to step on the basketball court or field hockey field again.”

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