Either Way, an Inspiring Story

The details of Nate’s miraculous survival and recovery are the most gripping parts of the comeback narrative...

If you haven’t been living under a rock the last couple of months you may have seen or heard the story of the young man on the cover of this issue. Nate Winters became a media star in April when he made his return to the pitcher’s mound nearly two years after losing his left leg in a boating accident.

That moment of his return, in and of itself, was remarkable. But it was only a moment in the 19-month journey of Nate’s comeback as a pitcher for Winter Park High School’s varsity baseball team. I had no idea when I asked contributing writer Dave Seanor to do a story on Nate if there would be a comeback tale to tell. It was late February and baseball practice was just getting started. But I felt that just the fact that Nate was trying to play baseball again would be worth a few thousand words in print.

If Nate’s comeback had ended in the pitcher’s mound dirt—as it nearly did at a practice in February when he fell face down while trying to throw—Orlando magazine might have been alone in recounting the struggles of a 17-year-old amputee who gave up his dream of playing baseball again.

Would that have been a downer?


There is a line in Seanor’s story (“Almost Dead in the Water,” page 34) that reads: “Nate was beyond lucky.” It’s a reference to all the horrible possibilities that could have befallen Nate that day in August 2008 when he fell out of a boat and got caught in the vortex of the craft’s propeller.

The details of Nate’s miraculous survival and recovery are the most gripping parts of the comeback narrative, and many of those details have gone unreported until now. As Seanor’s piece reveals, Nate likely would have lost his right foot if not for the extreme measures surgeons took to save it, and he might not have had the chance to play ball again if not for a prosthetic specialist who built a “baseball leg” for him. Nate’s parents, both doctors, kept the good karma going, turning their home into a ’round-the-clock hangout for visitors so Nate wouldn’t get lonely or depressed.

It was Nate’s father, Tom Winters, who put the tragic episode on Lake Maitland into perspective while dozens of his son’s classmates and family friends gathered at the hospital the evening of the accident. Nate had just come out of surgery and was taken to the intensive care unit. The mood of the group was predictably somber.

“I told them,” Tom Winters recalls, “ ‘Down the road we’re going to look back on this night as not the day Nate lost his leg, but as the day Nate’s life was saved.’ ”

And that’s where the comeback of Nate Winters began.

Speaking of comebacks, Bill Segal may have to make one in light of the Orlando Sentinel’s report that the county commissioner failed to abide by a common-sense ethics requirement on conflicts of interest.

Here’s how it works: You don’t vote on matters involving business associates. Like, duh. Yet, Segal failed to disclose he had a business relationship with a developer and voted on her requests. He had numerous chances to speak up, the paper reported, but didn’t.

We also have a story on Segal (“Mr. Establishment,” page 42), which lends some insight into the Orange County mayoral candidate’s political baggage as a well-connected insider.

Categories: Column