FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The daughter of the former head of athletics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was badly hurt in a swimming accident in Hawaii on Christmas Day.
Crystal Pitney, daughter of Randy and Pat Pitney, and a sixth-grader at Wood River Elementary School, was injured as she was walking into the water at Hapuna Beach, near a resort where her family was staying on the Big Island.
Randy Pitney, reached Tuesday, said he did not see the incident, but the family believes a wave pulled the 12-year-old down.
Crystal Pitney's back was broken in several place and her ribs separated from her spinal cord. She was flown to a hospital in Honolulu where she underwent five hours of surgery, Pitney said.
Pitney said the family is optimistic about his daughter's long-term recovery.
''We are looking forward to the day Crystal can return to Fairbanks,'' Pitney said. It's unknown when that will happen.
Pitney worked as athletic director for three years. He was reassigned elsewhere within the university in early December.
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