It was supposed to be an adventurous outing to celebrate her last birthday in her 20s. Instead, Katie Malone ended up with her body shattered after a freak parasailing accident in Mexico—but she and her family are thankful she's alive. Malone's brother Brendan Malone tells People his sister took off on what was meant to be a 10-minute parasailing ride in Puerto Vallarta in early June, but something soon went wrong. The boat pulling Malone flipped and her parasailing line was severed, leaving her floating untethered, hundreds of feet up in the air. Brendan Malone tells CNN his sister tried to steer the parasail, but she passed out about 20 minutes into the ordeal, which ended when she crash-landed 45 minutes after it all started at an airport about 2 miles away. Her dad tells the Sun her last words before she passed out: "Please don't let me die, please don't let me be paralyzed."
Malone didn't die, but her brother says she did suffer a slew of serious injuries, including a broken pelvis, a handful of broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a gash to her forehead, per a GoFundMe he set up to help pay for her medical costs (it's raised nearly $50,000 as of Friday morning). Malone spent nearly three weeks in a Mexican hospital, then was transferred by plane back to the US to continue receiving treatment at a hospital in San Diego, where she's from. Although Brendan Malone is staying mum on whether there will be legal action against the parasailing company, he tells People his family is "beyond unhappy." "Those guys left the scene of the crime," he says. "They flipped the boat back over and put it back in the ocean and bailed while my sister was floating away." Still, he calls his sister "a miracle," noting she's been upbeat, joking around "and … is not giving up." (Read more parasailing stories.)