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Family seeking donations after freak accident that paralyzed MN mom

It happened in a public park in Bemidji.

A Bagley, Minnesota, family is asking the public for help following a freak accident that left a local mom paralyzed this month. 

Alyssa Pfannenstein was with her boyfriend and daughter in Bemidji's Diamond Point Park on Sept. 3, when a tree fell on her and broke her neck, the Bemidji Pioneer reports

The paper says the couple had "unwittingly attached their hammock to a rotted tree, which uprooted and fell."

According to a GoFundMe donation page set up on Pfannenstein's behalf, the accident "shattered" her C5 vertebra (which gives the neck structural support and flexibility). 

She had to be airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where she "underwent extensive surgery to remove the bone fragments and repair the damage done to her spine."

Now, she has "little mobility in her arms and that is it." 

An update on GoFundMe says she has also run into some complications (including hitting "a fever of 104" for unknown reasons this week), delaying her transfer to a rehab center. 

In the 10 days since it was launched, the fundraising effort has garnered more than $5,700. The goal is $25,000, which the page says will go toward Pfannenstein's family and medical bills. 

"Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Ms. Pfannenstein and her family," Marcia Larson, Bemidji parks and recreation director, told GoMN Friday. 

She also said that this "unfortunate incident is a good reminder that our natural environment in both our parks" and "public spaces" can be unpredictable. 

For that reason, Larson said, the department appreciates Pfannenstein and her boyfriend for "telling their story to promote more family safety in those public parks and spaces."

She added that her department does not encourage people to hang hammocks or other items from the city's trees. 

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