A UCSB student was listed in fair condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Monday, two days after incurring a severe neck injury during a front lawn wrestling accident in front of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house.
Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. spokesman Charlie Johnson said paramedics arrived on scene at 5:04 p.m. on Saturday.
“The victim was critically injured with a possible broken neck,” Johnson said. “He was transported code blue to Cottage Hospital. Apparently they had come from a jujitsu tournament and were practicing jujitsu.”
A hospital spokesman said Kyle Engelbert, 20, was still in the intensive care unit, but his condition was improving.
According to police reports, Engelbert was wrestling with a friend Saturday afternoon in a mutually consensual manner after drinking beer. The two had planned to head down to Greek Park to watch the Inter-Sorority Volleyball Tournament when they decided to wrestle one more time.
The friend, whose identity is being withheld by police, told officers he had his arm around Engelbert’s neck when they fell to the ground. The friend told police he felt Engelbert’s neck impact with his arm as they landed awkwardly. Engelbert then mouthed that he could not breathe.
At 5:00 p.m., accident witnesses approached Isla Vista Foot Patrol officers who were patrolling nearby and told them there was a person down and not getting up after a fight at the corner of Embarcadero Del Norte and Cervantes Road.
Officers arrived on the scene where a crowd of about 25 people had gathered. Sgt. Tom Walton immediately determined Engelbert was not breathing and had no pulse.
Sara Borowski, 18, who had witnessed some of the fight, told Walton she had recent CPR training and volunteered to administer rescue breaths.
The pair began CPR, but discontinued after four or five cycles when Walton detected a pulse and labored breathing. UCSB Rescue 7 paramedics arrived on scene and took over life-saving measures.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Borowski said. “I’m glad I could help.”
Officers determined no criminal action had transpired since all witnesses to the incident confirmed the injury was accidental and the wrestling match was undertaken in fun.