UF student who fell off five story parking garage makes miraculous recovery

Published: Aug. 9, 2020 at 7:09 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Seven months after falling from a downtown Gainesville parking garage and suffering a traumatic brain injury, one Florida gator is back on his feet and plans to be back in class this semester.

Mitch Capps is lucky and grateful to be alive after his fall. “I mean it’s just cool to be alive, I mean breathing, and drinking water those are really cool things to do,” he said.

The memories of the fall are hazy for Mitch including why he was up there in the first place.”I only remember like a split second of falling and being like oh no and then hitting the ground and being like ouch.”

Back in January of this year, Mitch fell from all the way a five-story drop all the way to the concrete, probably landing feet first. From there the miraculous events actually began, including Mitch’s childhood friend driving down the street just moments after he hit the ground and being able to identify him to first responders who were trying to help.

Mitch said, " He was able to identify me by my jacket and pick me out and tell them who I was so I could get the emergency surgery consent to go in. So that was a big help shout out Riley."

Mitch suffered two broken legs, broken ribs a broken pelvis, and a surgery that required part of his skull to be removed. But while they weren't sure if he would ever walk, talk or even open his eyes again in just two months he was getting annoyed with how simple the cognitive tests like basic math were.

His mom Kim Capps said, “two months after he fell 5 stories he’s mad and frustrated saying why am I wasting my time doing this. Instead, can you give me some calculus?” Mitch added, “they said I might need to do some extra stuff but I’m not stressed out about it. There’s nothing I can’t do at this point. I just need to focus on getting back to running and what not but we’ll see how that goes.”

For his parents, one moment sticks out when they knew his recovery was beyond even what they had hoped for. His dad Bryan Capps said, “when he wrote his first word on a pad and it was an expletive deleted I was like okay, that’s exactly what he would do. That’s exactly when we knew he was back and he was there.”

Now Mitch will be attending UF and finishing his senior year as a forestry major. Something he and his parents say wouldn't have been possible without so much community love and support. "I didn't know so many people liked me that much that's cool I mean even just a little bit. It's cool that so many came to my side when I needed it, so much love flowing around."

And as for heights? Mitch says he probably won’t be hanging out on too many parking garages, but added there’s still a good chance you’ll find him in the upper branches of the trees he loves so much.

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