SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A local man is spending his birthday in the hospital after a tragic accident at his family’s Table Rock Lake home.

Billy Krehmeier fell 16 feet off his family’s deck, breaking his neck and paralyzing him from the neck down. As he spoke to KOLR10 in the Mercy Hospital trauma wing, Krehmeier was all smiles, just as he is in the photos before the accident.

The sound of the ventilator beeping isn’t the happy birthday song Krehmeier was used to hearing for 25 years of his life.

“I had so much stuff planned out,” Krehmeier said. “I mean, like literally, I was starting school Monday. I just picked up my books on Friday,  and I was just going to go to the lake for one last weekend with the boys.”

His dad, Scott Krehmeier, a volunteer firefighter in Stone County, recalls waking up in the middle of the night to find his son.

“When I went out there, not seeing anyone on the mattresses,” he said. “I thought, well I’m gonna go check on them, and I saw some people huddled around someone. Anyway, so I go down there and saw Billy.”

It’s not a memory he shares with his son.

“It’s one of those movie scenarios, like I don’t even remember,” Krehmeier said. “I just woke up in the hospital with eight people looking down on me saying ‘you’re going to be okay.’”

He landed in the trauma wing with a broken neck two and a half weeks ago. Wednesday, on his 26th birthday, he’s hearing machinery tunes that’ll stick around after his birthday is over.

“As far as patients go, I’m probably the coolest one here,” Krehmeier said.

Just outside the room, lies a book for guests to leave notes and inspirational words. It reads: “Live the story you want to tell.”

The story Krehmeier wants to tell is pretty simple.

“I’m going to walk again,” he said.

His parents were met with overwhelming support from Billy’s friends, several driving hours on end to visit with their son for 20 minutes.

“When you hear so many wonderful things, it just makes me proud that I’m his dad,” Krehmeier said.

Mom Deborah Krehmeier was happy to listen to any story Billy was willing to tell. Just a few days ago, she was uncertain she would ever hear the sound of his voice again.

“He said ‘hi mom’ and ‘I love you.’ Yeah, that’s my baby,” she said.

Wednesday, Billy is using his words to ask for a small birthday gift.

“Whenever you go out with your friends, you know, we all buy shots for each other and usually someone buys the birthday boy a shot,” he said. “So I mean, five bucks, if you want to do that, chip that into the GoFundMe account and that’s plenty a shot for me.”

The GoFundMe account was set up by one of Billy’s friends to help out with medical bills.