DUNEDIN — A city commissioner was in serious condition Monday at Mease Dunedin Hospital after what her husband called a "freak" boating accident on Mother's Day.
Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski wanted to spend the day with her husband and son so the family rented a boat Sunday, said Tom Bujalski.
The family was riding down the Intracoastal Waterway on their way to Caladesi Island for lunch around noon Sunday when the boat went over the wake of another boat.
"When she bounced up and came down on the seat, she landed wrong and fractured the L1 vertebra in her back, which is in the lower back, right at the end of the spinal cord," Tom Bujalski said. "She can't move. She is pretty much immobilized."
Bujalski said he drove the boat in to the nearby Dunedin Marina and called paramedics.
"She has feeling in her legs and fingers but can't move because of the cracked vertebra," he said. "It's basically bone on bone and she's on heavy pain meds."
Julie Bujalski, 44, will undergo a kyphoplasty today.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat painful, progressive vertebral compression fractures.
Tom Bujalski said his wife could be out of the hospital as early as Thursday.
"The surgery gives height back and glues the vertebra back together," he said. "With physical therapy, she will be functional and able to walk around."
It's been a tough few months for Commissioner Julie Bujalski. She buried her father April 21 and her mother May 1, her husband said.
Lifelong friend Susan Fallon and her family were on the boat Sunday afternoon with the Bujalskis. She said that up until the accident, "it was a magical day."
Fallon, a Holiday resident, said five minutes before encountering the wake, she and Bujalski looked at each other and said, "This is the best Mother's Day I've ever had."
Reach Demorris A. Lee at [email protected] or (727) 445-4174.