Man Paralyzed After Chasing Monkey That Stole His Hat Has ‘Long Recovery’ Ahead, Daughter Says

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The daughter of a Florida man who became paralyzed after falling from a roof while chasing a monkey that had stolen his favorite Pittsburgh Steelers hat in Bali says the family is “hopeful” that he’ll regain the use of his body.

Jeff “Swede” Swedenhjelm is fighting for his life in a Malaysian hospital after a 33-foot fall from a pavilion in Bali left him paralyzed from the chest down. Now, his daughter, Lyric, says that although things are looking up for the man, he has a long road to recovery ahead.


“He’s been very strong and very optimistic so we’re feeling really good that he’ll be able to walk again if he just gets the rehab that he needs,” Lyric, 21, tells PEOPLE of her father. “We all know how hard it is for him but he doesn’t really say how hard it is. He really just says that he’s gonna be back on his feet soon.”


She adds: “He really understands that the way that he got into this mess is honestly pretty silly, but the seriousness kind of takes away from that.”

Swedenhjelm first encountered the group of monkeys on the Indonesian island when he took shelter under a pavilion to get out of the rain on Dec. 18, Swedenhjelm’s friend, Scott Wells, revealed in a recent Facebook Live video.

“One reached down and grabbed his favorite hat off his head. His favorite Steelers hat off his head — which, if you know him, he ain’t just gonna give that thing up,” Wells said in the video. “So he climbed up on the roof of the pavilion, a huge pavilion. It was multi-stories, from what he told me, and he walked on the roof.”


Wells continued: “[He] got up to the second floor, got up to the third floor and he was trying to get the monkey to just drop it and run away. That’s the last memory he had.”

Villagers took Swedenhjelm, who has lived in Bali for at least a year,  to a local hospital where he was in a medically-induced coma for six hours. He has since undergone several surgeries, some of which, doctors said, could reverse the paralysis.

“He should be able to sit up and move his hands in the next couple days, but we aren’t completely positive,” Lyric tells PEOPLE. “[Doctors are] hoping that with relieving the pressure from his spinal cords, the paralysis will go away — but only time will tell.”