The devastating accident came a little over a year after Pendergrast celebrated the first birthday of his his twins, whom he shares with girlfriend Heather Yerrid

By Joelle Goldstein and Melody Chiu
July 12, 2019 11:35 PM
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Nick Pendergrast/Instagram

Married at First Sight alum Nick Pendergrast is opening up about a near-fatal accident that he was involved in earlier this year.

The former reality star, who welcomed twins in December 2017 with his girlfriend Heather Yerrid, revealed in an emotional Instagram post on Friday that he was left partially paralyzed after an “unfortunate severe accident while on the job” this past January.

Now in a wheelchair, Pendergrast said he has endured a “depressing” and “difficult” past six months, but is working to “become independent” and walk again.

In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, the father of two also credited his girlfriend and mother for helping him through this challenging time and noted that his children, 1½-year-old son Logan and daughter Layla, continue to motivate him every day.

“It’s been the hardest year of my life, to say the least! [I’ve] had a lot of support from Heather and especially my mom … I don’t know what I would have done without them,” he says. “Motivation is all over my temporary apartment in the form of baby photos! My kids keep me going.”

“I finally thought the time was right to share… seems like the platform Married At First Sight has given me is going to be an amazing support system as I continue to fight for life,” he adds. “The outpouring of love and support already means everything to me.”

Pendergrast opened his post on Friday by echoing those sentiments and explaining why it took him so long to share the upsetting news with his followers.

“It’s been a life changing and devastating 2019. I knew for myself I needed to be in a better mental state to share what happened to me in January,” he wrote alongside a series of photos and videos documenting his progress since the accident.

“I don’t really know if I am truly ready to open up about all of it in fear of how it will be received. What I am sure of, I need all the support I can get right now to make it through this,” he continued. “These pictures were taken so that if I survived, I could see how far I have come to give me hope for the future.”

Though Pendergrast did not give specifics of how the January 22 accident happened, he told his followers he was “found submerged in water for hours, with severe hypothermia, multiple pelvic fractures, severely comminuted sacral fractures, Morel-Lavallee, and more.”

“When Heather arrived to the ER, she was told they didn’t know if I was going to make it through the night,” he added of his condition that evening.

After six-and-a-half months, the former reality star said he has finally “gotten a straight answer about what the future may hold,” and went on to reveal that the “nerve damage caused by the blunt trauma has left me partially paralyzed.”

Nick Pendergrast
Nick Pendergrast/Instagram

Pendergrast, who is now in a wheelchair and receiving therapy to hopefully walk again one day, explained that he’s had to uproot his entire life to an area that had “the best doctors to save my life, and the best environment to regain any functionality in my lower body.”

“Up until 2019, I had never met anyone in a wheelchair or knew of anyone in my circle that had experienced this type of thing,” he admitted. “The past 6 months have been lonely, depressing, scary, stressful, and difficult.”

Despite feeling an array of emotions from the accident, Pendergrast said he’s recently had a change of heart and has been focused on becoming independent again as a disabled individual.

“I am fighting every day to stay sane, motivated, and in high spirits,” he said. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I have gained empathy, compassion, and gratitude through this and hope to gain more. If nothing else, I just want to be able to walk again.”

RELATED VIDEO: Twins on the Way for Married at First Sight Alum Nick Pendergrast

The star finished his post by asking any of his followers who have gone through similar experiences or were told they’d never walk again and did to reach out and share their stories.

“Even if you were told you’d never walk again and didn’t, I would love to hear how you have coped and moved forward,” he said. “I am asking for your prayers, love, and hope through this difficult journey.”

Though Pendergrast asked for support amid the challenging time, a rep at Married at First Sight tells PEOPLE they are confident the former reality star will make it through this.

“Nick is an incredibly brave individual. We, at MAFS, have always known that,” a rep for the show says. “He is a beloved member of our show family and we lift him and his family up now and forever. If anyone can turn this tragedy into a triumph, it’s Nick Pendergrast.”

Nick Pendergrast with his girlfriend and their kids
Courtesy Nick Pendergrast

The Married at First Sight alum’s accident sadly comes a little over a year after he welcomed twins with his girlfriend on December 10, 2017.

At the time, Pendergrast and Yerrid shared their disbelief over being parents of two little ones in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE.

“We are in awe with the twins. This entire experience has been surreal,” the couple said in February 2018. “If you would have asked either of us if this is what we thought life would look like in a year, we would have laughed.”

The babies were born two months early and spent some time in the hospital’s NICU, but eventually went home in February of that year and have continued to grow and thrive ever since.

In December 2018, the father of two wrote a sweet post in honor of his children’s first birthday. It was the last photo he posted on his Instagram before the life-changing accident occurred just a few weeks later, and he subsequently went silent for months.

In April, he returned to the platform with a cute video of his daughter. He followed that Instagram post with another adorable one, shared last month, when he celebrated the twins turning 18 months old.

“18 months in the books! #twins #twinning #laylaandlogan#18monthsbaby #photoop,” he captioned the side-by-side shots of the siblings in matching navy attire.

Married at First Sight (produced by Kinetic Content) airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.